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While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness are profound.

      As such, strong emphasis is laid on the promotion and preservation of its unique culture. By protecting and nurturing Bhutan’s       living culture it is believed that it will help guard the sovereignty of the nation.   _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 


....EATING HABITS

....Traditional Bhutanese eating habits are simple ....and, in general, food is eaten with hands.   Family ....members eat while sitting cross legged on the ....wooden floor with food first being served to the     head of the household first.

....It is usually women who serve the food and in ....most cases, the mother. Before eating, a short ....prayer is offered and a small morsel placed on the ....floor as an offering to the local spirits and deities. ....With modernization, eating habits have changed ....and in urban areas, people usually eat   with cutlery whilst seated at a regular dining table.

Traditionally dishes were cooked in earthenware, but with the easy availability of modern goods, pots and pans have largely replaced their use.  A typical Bhutanese meal consists of rice, a dish of Ema Datshi, the country’s favourite dish of chili and cheese, pork, beef curry or lentils.

   

    FUNERAL

   Death signifies re-birth  or a mere passing on to a    new life. In keeping with the traditions, elaborate   rituals are performed to ensure a safe passage     and a good rebirth.    

   The 7th, 14th, 21st and 49th days after a person’s     death are considered especially important and are     recognized by erecting prayer flags in the name of   the deceased and performing specific religious ....rituals. While the deceased are normally cremated, ....funerary practices vary among the southern ....Bhutanese and the nomadic Brokpas of northern Bhutan. Southern Bhutanese typically bury their dead while the Brokpas carry out ‘Sky Burials’, a process in which the deceased are prepared and left atop mountains to be devoured by vultures in a final act of compassion and generosity. Elaborate and ancient rituals are also conducted on the anniversary of the death with the erection of prayer flags. The relatives and people of the locality come with alcohol, rice or other sundry items to attend such rituals.


....BIRTH

....The birth of a child is always welcomed. In Bhutan    extended family and guests are discouraged from ....visiting during the first three days after the birth.

....On the third day, a short purification ritual is ....performed after which visitors are welcomed to ....visit the new born and mother. Bhutanese value ....children as progenitors of the future and therefore ....do not discriminate on the sex of the child. ....Traditionally various gifts are offered ranging from ....dairy products to cloth and money.

....The child is not immediately named; this responsibility is usually entrusted to the head lama (Buddhist priest) of the local temple. The mother and child will also receive blessings from the local deity (natal deity) and it was traditional that the name associated with the deity is given. In some cases, the child is given the name of the day on which the child is born. Based on the Bhutanese calendar, a horoscope is written based on the time and date of the birth, this will detail the various rituals to be performed at different times in the life of the child and to an extent predict his or her future.

    

....MARRIAGE 

....Until just a few decades ago arranged marriages were common and many married ....among their relatives. In eastern Bhutan cross-cousin marriages were also once ....common, however, this practice is now becoming less common place among the ....literate masses and most marriages are based on the choice of the individuals.

....Marriages are simple affairs and are usually kept low-key. However, elaborate rituals ....are performed for lasting unions between the bride and the bridegroom. As the ....religious ceremony comes to an end, parents, relatives and friends of the couple ....present the newlyweds with traditional offerings of scarves along with gifts in the form ....of cash and goods.

....In the Western Bhutan, it was commonplace that the husband goes to live in his wife’s ....house after marriage while the practice in Eastern Bhutan is for the wife to move into ....the husband’s home. Of course, the newlyweds may also choose to live on their own. ....Divorce is also an accepted norm and carries no ignominy or disgrace within the ....country.

    



....BHUTANESE DRESS 

....One of the most distinctive features of the ....Bhutanese is their traditional dress.                

....One of the most distinctive features of the ....Bhutanese is their traditional dress, unique ....garments that have evolved over thousands of ....years. Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe ....somewhat resembling a kimono that is tied at ....the waist by a traditional belt known as Kera. The ....pouch which forms at the front traditionally was ....used for carrying food bowls and a small dagger. ....Today however it is more accustomed to carrying small articles such as wallets, mobile phones and Doma (beetle nut).

Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego with an inner layer known as a Wonju.

However, tribal and semi-nomadic people like the Bramis and Brokpas of eastern Bhutan generally wear clothing that differs from the rest of the Bhutanese population. The Brokpas and the Bramis both wear dresses woven either out of Yak or Sheep hair.

Bhutanese still wear long scarves when visiting Dzongs and other administrative centers. The scarves worn vary in color, signifying the wearer’s status or rank. The scarf worn by men is known as Kabney while those worn by women are known as Rachus. .Below is a brief breakdown of the different kabneys and their associated rank.

The Rachu is hung over a woman’s shoulder and unlike the scarves worn by men, does not have any specific rank associated with its color. Rachus are usually woven out of raw silk and embroidered with beautiful rich patterns.


Rank                                                                                     Kabney/Scarf

The King                                                                               Yellow

Je Khenpo (Head Abbot)                                                    Yellow

Minister                                                                               .Orange

Judge                                                                                  ..Green

District Administrator                                                        Red with a small white stripe

Commoner                                                                          White