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Culture & Traditions

Bhutanese culture is one of the distinctive cultures in the world. As a tiny country with a very small population the need to preserve culture and tradition is amplified. This unique culture is a means of protecting the sovereignty of the nation. The distinctiveness of the culture and tradition is visible in the everyday life of the Bhutanese.

BHUTANESE DRESS


The traditional dress of Bhutan is one of the most unique in the world. Men wear gho, a long robe that is raised till knee, folded backwards and then tied around the waist by kera, a belt. Traditionally, the pouch formed above the waist is used for carrying bowl, money and doma (areca nut and betal leaf eaten with a dash of lime). Men generally insert a knife in the belt from inside the pouch. But the dress for the tribal and semi nomadic people like the Bramis and Brokpas of eastern Bhutan and the Layaps of western Bhutan have a unique dress of their own and do not wear the gho and Kera. The Brokpas and the Bramis wear a dress made of yak hair and sheep wool with an animal skin over it and a hat with five fringes hanging from the sides. While the Layap men dress Gho the women dress differently with a loose outfit that reaches their calves. The dress is again made of yak hair. On the head they put on a conical bamboo hat.

On formal visits to a Dzong or an office, Bhutanese men wear a scarf called kabney. Wearing of kabney is an important part of the Bhutanese decorum and should be put on in a right manner. The kabney also identifies the rank of a person. For instance, the King wears the yellow scarf, minister’s orange, judge’s green, and district administrator’s red with a white band going lengthwise and common people white with fringes etc.

Women on the other hand wear a rectangular shaped cloth piece called kira. It is tied by belt. However women wear their kira long till their ankle. Women also wear the scarf called rachu. They hang it over their shoulder and it is beautifully hand woven with fringes at the end. It is smaller than a kabney.

FESTIVALS


One of the most colorful festivals in the Bhutanese calendar is the Tshechu performed in all the Dzongs and in many monasteries and temples spread throughout Bhutan. Tshechu is a mask dance festival to commemorate the events in the life of Guru Rinpochoe who is revered as the second Buddha in Bhutan. There is also a display of Thongdrol, large scroll paintings of deities and saints which have the power to liberate people from sin that they had committed just by seeing it. People gather from all walks of life to witness this significant event. There are many other festivals distinct to different villages which are mostly animistic in nature performed by mediums. The festivals are moment for social get-together where people wear their finest clothes and jewelries.