Bhutan Traditions & Culture

Written by culive

Although Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and wealth are profound.

Therefore, a strong emphasis is placed on the promotion and preservation of its unique culture. It is believed that protecting and nurturing Bhutan’s vibrant culture will help preserve the nation’s sovereignty.

Eating habits

The traditional Bhutanese eating habits are simple, and generally food is eaten with the hands. Family members eat while sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, with the food being served first to the head of the household.

Traditionally, dishes were cooked in earthenware, but with the easy availability of modern goods, pots and pans have largely replaced their use. A typical Bhutanese meal consists of rice, a dish of ema datshi, the country’s favourite dish with chilli and cheese, pork, beef curry or lentils.


Death means rebirth or a mere passing over into a new life. In accordance with the traditions, elaborate rituals are performed to ensure a safe transition and a good rebirth.

Bhutanese usually bury their dead while the Brokpas perform “sky burials”, a process in which the deceased are prepared and left on the mountains to be devoured by vultures in a final act of compassion and generosity. Elaborate and ancient rituals are also performed on the day of death with the raising of prayer flags. The relatives and the population of the place come with alcohol, rice or other things to participate in such rituals.


The birth of a child is always welcome. In Bhutan, extended family and guests are discouraged from visiting the child during the first three days after birth.

The child is not immediately called by name; this responsibility is usually given to the main lama (Buddhist priest) of the local temple. Mother and child are also blessed by the local deity (birth deity), and it was tradition that the name associated with the deity was mentioned. In some cases, the child is given the name of the day on which the child is born. Based on the Bhutanese calendar, a horoscope is drawn up based on the time and date of birth, detailing the various rituals performed at different times in the child’s life and to some extent predicting his or her future.


Until a few decades ago arranged marriages were common, and many married among their relatives. In eastern Bhutan, cousins used to be married to each other, but this practice is less common among the educated masses today, and most marriages are based on individual choice.

Marriages are simple affairs and are usually handled with restraint. However, elaborate rituals are performed for lasting bonds between the bride and groom. When the religious ceremony comes to an end, parents, relatives and friends of the couple present the newlyweds with traditional scarves and gifts of cash and goods.

Bhutanese dress

One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress.

One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional clothing, unique pieces of clothing that have evolved over thousands of years. Men wear the gho, a knee-length garment that resembles a kimono and is tied at the waist with a traditional belt known as a kera. The pouch t, which forms at the front, was traditionally used to carry food bowls and a small dagger. Today, however, he is more used to carrying small items such as wallets, mobile phones and doma (beetle nut).

Women wear the kira, a long, ankle-length dress, accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a tego and an inner layer known as wonju.

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