img1.jpg

The People

Bhutan is a rich mosaic of cultures, lifestyles, languages and belief systems. In a country with a population of just over half a million, as many as 19 different dialects and a few languages are spoken. This is attributed to the fact that in the past, Bhutanese communities settled in the valleys with limited communication. It is for the same reason that the sense of individuality and independence emerges as a strong characteristic of the people.

The Bhutanese are, by nature, physically strong and fiercely independent with an open and ready sense of humour. Hospitality is an in-built social value in Bhutan. People wear colourful dresses, the men wear a Gho, a long robe tied around the waist by a slim fabric belt, or Kera. Kira, the main garment of women is an ankle length wrap-around dress secured by a belt around the waist, and fastened at the shoulders with silver brooches called Korma.

There is no rigid class system in Bhutan and social and educational opportunities are not affected by rank or birth. Bhutanese women enjoy equal rights and opporunties as with men. Both men and women are free to choose their partners for marriage and both can initiate a divorce.

Monks are held in great respect and play an important part in community life. Representatives of the monk body are present at all important occasions. In the past, it was common for one son from each family to enter the monastic order, a custom that is less prevalent today.