Bhutan is the smallest country in the south Asia with a population being less than one million. Until recently, the country used to be one of the most isolated places on earth for its hesitation in allowing outer influence on its culture and religion. The impact of Buddhism is incredible… everyone from far-flung villagers to the king consult the monks for auspicious occasions. Bhutan carefully monitors the impact of foreign influence to keep a balance between modernization and preservation of its traditions and culture. Bhutan follows the Tantric forms Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion.
Thus, Bhutan is world’s only officially Tantric Buddhist country. The Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels are the most conspicuous symbols of Bhutanese life and landscape. The biggest festival of Bhutan is called Tsechus. The Tsechu celebration goes on for several days; sometimes the dancers confront make clownish remarks for the spectators’ amusement. Most people in southern Bhutan follow the Nepalese form of Hinduism.
Most of the festivals are celebrated in the masked ritual dances in which the Buddhist dancers are clad in a rainbow of sparkling brocade silks and a mask depicting either the good or the evil force. The festival show distinct characteristics of the pre-Buddhist era when the people in the Tibetan plateau practiced the shamanistic Bon religion. Some of the festivals are Ache Lhamo Dances, Bumthang, Hungla dances, Trashi Yangtse and the Bon festivals, Ha and Trashi Yangtse. Religion’s influence in Bhutanese way of life is so immense that although the country has only one cinema hall, and no any large shopping stores, Bhutan was ranked the happiest place in Asia and the 8th happiest in the world 2006 Global Survey!
The children are given the name in the Tibetan tradition: from the day, they were born. The horoscope is made according to the Bhutanese calendar. All rituals and ceremonies are performed according to the horoscope. Even marriage, death and rebirth are predicted according to the horoscope. Bhutanese practice marriage among relatives, the cousins are traditionally the first choices. The bride and groom are presented gifts and scarves called Khada. Bhutanese observe a long ritual after the death of a person, and they erect prayer flags so that the deceased would have a good life in rebirth.