In spite of being a small country, the culture in Bhutan is rich and diverse. Most people of Bhutan refer to their country as Drukyul, which means “ The Land of the Thunder Dragon”. The society in Bhutan consists of several ethnic groups like Sharcops, Monpas, Ngalops and Lhotshampas.
Food is traditionally eaten with hands together with family members sitting cross legged on the floor. The food is generally served by women, and it is served first to the head of the household. Modernization has brought in western eating habits like the dining table and cutlery and earthenware has been replaced with modern pots and pans. A typical Bhutanese meal is chilli and cheese, pork, beef, lentils, curry and a dish of Ema Datshi and zow shungo. Dairy products are also popular and so are beverages like black tea, beer, rice wine and butter tea.
Women wear colorful blouses and over that the Kira, a long ankle length dress. A light silk jacket known as Tego is worn over the Kira. Daily use kiras are made of cotton and wool and are simple, but the kiras worn during festivals are colorful and vibrant.
Bhutan’s spring is in March and summer starts in mid-April, and there are occasional rain showers. The summer monsoon is from June to September and the heavy rains sometimes lead to flash floods, landslides. Late September to late November is autumn, which has bright days and snowfall in higher altitudes. This is followed by winter from November through March, with snowfall in regions above 3000m.
Men wear the Gho, a knee length robe which looks somewhat like a kimono. It is tied at the waist using a belt called a kera.
Bhutan is known for its colorful festivals with masked dances and performances. The festivals have a religious meaning to them and attract many tourists from around Bhutan and the world. Some of the festivals are the BlackNecked Crane Festival, Paro Tshechu, Thimphu Tshechu, Trongsa Tshechu, Gomphu Kora, Jambay Lhakhang, Punakha Tshechu, etc. It is believed that one must visit a Tshechu at least once in their life.
Marriages are usually simple affairs, however with elaborate rituals performed for the lasting union of the bride and bridegroom. After the ritual, scarves, goods and cash are given as gifts to the newlyweds. Crosscousin marriages were common in the olden days, however the situation has changed due to literacy and awareness.
In western Bhutan, the husband goes to live in the wife’s house, while in the east, the wife goes to live with the husband in his house. The newlyweds can also choose to live on their own. Divorce is accepted in the country and carries no disgrace.