More than 75% of the total population, of little more than 700,000 people, lives in rural areas.And agriculture is the primary source of their livelihood.The population, except in a few major towns, is sparsely distributed. Villages are separated by rugged mountains, vast valleys, and rivers.
Some scholars conclude that the absence of communication facilities in the past have led to the development of several different languages and dialects in a small country. There are 18 languages and dialects spoken by the people in different parts of the country.
The benefit of inevitable but scattered settlements across the valleys and over the mountains is the strong sense of independence in the Bhutanese people. Generally, people are bold, honest, and independent with readiness for open and crude jokes for humor.
One very common attribute of all Bhutanese is the sense of hospitality. It is a rare incident where even a stranger is welcomed by a Bhutanese. This is a unique social fiber that greatly contributes toward strengthening the country’s social harmony.
The people hold a strong belief that being good to others brings them a good karma that will make the present and next life happy and better. The characteristics of the Bhutanese hinge on the tenets of Buddhism which is followed as the state religion.
Bhutan’s population can be categorized into three major ethic groups: Ngalongs, Sharchops, and the Nepalese. The ancestors of the Nepalese in Bhutan had come to the country as economic migrants in the early 19th century. They mostly live in the southern part of the country.
The national dress is gho (for men) and kira (for women). The gho is a large robe pulled up till the knee forming a fold in the front which is mocked at as the largest pocket in the world. And the kira resembles a kimono.
Our fifth King H.M Jigme Gesar Namgay Wangchuk reminds time and again that our nation as a small country, all we have is the unique and well preserved culture. Though, small in size and population, Bhutan has a culture deeply rooted in the values and principles of Buddhism.
Reflecting ‘unity in diversity’ people of 18 different ethnicities live in harmony with strong sense of oneness. Bhutan’s culture is uniquely evolved and time-tested. To provide hospitality to strangers is one of the core social values. Care for strangers and neighbors during the time of adversity like death of a family member is a living fact of a strong caring culture. The traditional festivals are centuries-old and still vibrant.
Mask dances are the mainstay of various festivals held round the year in different parts of the country. Mask dances include naked dances performed at the festivals to ward off evil spirits. So the festivals, too, are rich in myth, legends and beliefs. Bhutan’s uniqueness in her dress code is one important aspect of the culture that has the potential to keep the history living and reliving. The national dress is called gho (for men) and kira (for women).
One of the most wonderful characteristics of Bhutanese culture is the fact that there are no layers of social castes, unlike in many other countries, especially developing countries. Man and woman, rich and poor, powerful and weak, are all equal. Most elements of Bhutanese culture are part of the national etiquette called Driglam Namzha.
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