The Kingdom of Bhutan is a country with a wealth of historical and cultural heritage that astonishes the world. It is a land locked country located at the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains. The country enjoys historic ties with her neighboring Asian countries and is a member of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). It is bordered to the South, East and West by India and to the North by China. The Bhutanese call their country the Land of Thunder Dragon and is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and entertainment as well as a recreational area for thrill seekers and adventurers.
People of Bhutan play a leading role in the engine of prosperity of their country and has been fueled by pragmatism, hard work and a flood of individual enterprises. The country with a seven hundred thousand population has a unique and vibrant culture .Majority of the Bhutanese are divided linguistically into Sharchops,Ngalong and Lhotshampa. The countries natural and historical attractions appeal to many visitors from all parts of the world. Bhutan is a land of poets, ancient and modern arts and a great variety of cultures in a terrain with lakes, mountains and valleys. Bhutan is largely an agricultural society with fairly rich resources both for vegetable crops and animal husbandry. Although the country has deep Vajrayana Buddhism roots, the country is a highly secular nation which accommodates Hinduism, and several other minor religious communities with equal respect and pride. The people of the country are unified by a common history. They are also united through a common language. Dzongkha. Bhutan art possesses several distinctive characteristics that give it its own unique style. There are grottos, temples and pagodas that are still there for the young generation to see and understand their roots and origin.
Bhutan has a long and rich history and respect of literature, religion, custom and national dress code. Bhutanese men wear Gho, a longish robe tied around the waist by a cloth belt, known as Kera. The women wear an ankle length dress known as Kira which is made of bright colored fine woven fabric with traditional patterns. Religion has an over whelming influence in Bhutanese architecture .The castle like Dzongs with their gently tapering walls with classical lines large courtyards and beautiful galleries are among the finest examples for this architecture. The capital, Thimphu is a bustling affluent town with glitzy shopping malls, boutiques and colorful markets which houses the intellectual elite as well as the seat of the government.
Thimphu has many places of interest. Some of the prominent landmarks in Thimphu are The Royal Place, Tashichho Dzong or “Fortress of the Glorious Religion” The bronze statue of Buddha, overlooking Thimphu city ,the National Library,The National Assembly Taj Tashi,The Clock Tower Square the ‘Thimphu Chorten’ memorial and the Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA). The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has its origin in Bhutan. One of whose four pillars is preservation and promotion of cultural values. The country and the people have the perfect attributes and credentials as a warm and generous host. Bhutan is renowned for the monarchy who is heading the transition to democracy and empowering the people.The country captured the interest of the entire world in recent months. The Royal Wedding of His Majesty The King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Royal Bride Ashi Jetsun Pema held on the auspicious day of 13 th October, 2011 at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu gave Bhutan a progressive and a positive image. The country has tended to preserve its traditional music, theater and dance separately from new developments offering visitors the opportunity to experience an ancient form as much as they were hundreds of years ago. The music and dance of the country are extremely colorful and are a source of entertainment and enjoyment for the people of the country.
Bhutan is not just admired for its beauty but it is also known for its amazing music. The countries music can be divided into traditional and modern varieties. The countries traditional music comprises religious and folk genres, the latter include zhungdra and boedra. The modern rigsar is played on a mix of traditional instruments and electronic keyboards. The Chiwang (fiddle),lingm (flute)and dramnyen (lute) are the most popular indigenous musical instruments. Kilu Music School and the Himalayan School of Music are the two major music Schools established in Thimphu. Many folk songs and chanting styles are derived from Drukpa music which is one of the most elaborate and inspiring artistic forms found in the region . They compose songs for every trivial occasion. The rich tradition is reflected through folk songs including its lyrics rooted in tradition and spirituality, theology and dedication. The folk music has great variety, with songs being composed on the culture, festivals, views of life, natural beauty and rural life. These songs are also about social inequality and poverty, about the material and the supernatural worlds. Folk music, nurtured through ages by villages is the most popular and timeless form of melody in the country.
The people of the country are natural musicians, who love to hear and sing good music.
The traditional Bhutane dance serves different purposes. Each purpose demands a different dance style. The people of the country have enjoyed their own forms of song and dance for centuries. Both ethnic and modern dances are featured in the dance festivals.The dance types in Bhutan comprises of the traditional and contemporary forms. Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals.Tsechu festival is an important festival where Charm dance are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichhoe Dzong in Thimphu. In Thimphu there are about three karaoke bars and about seven discotheques and night clubs. Bhutan has come a long way since the introduction of television in 1999 .Bhutan Broadcasting Service is the only television service operating in the country. The National Film awards event is held annually to encourage Bhutanese film makers .
The country and the people have the perfect attributes and credentials as a warm and generous host. People of Bhutan play a leading role in the engine of prosperity of this region and has been fueled by pragmatism, hard work and flood of individual enterprise. Bhutan is not merely historically an important region, but a country where art , culture and traditions are visible all a round.
Srimal Fernando, Research Scholar ,Department of Sociology ,South Asian University