BHUTANESE LIFE STYLE
Most Bhutanese live on farms, in remote hamlets, amidst sylvan settings. The fast life that is both the badge and bane of modern living is alien to the season-paced lifestyle of these agrarian folk.
Bhutanese society is egalitarian in its apparel; regardless of social stratum, everybody dresses alike. The national dress is a distinctive one, finely woven from multicoloured, vibrant-hued wool, cotton or silk. The male attire is called a "gho" and the female, the "kira". Jewellery is primarily coral, turquoise, pearls and agate set in exquisitely crafted gold and silver.
The cuisine of the country is robust with lots of meat, cereals and vegetables, liberally spiced with chillies. Salted butter tea, called "suja", which may sit strangely on occidental tongues, is customarily and frequently served along with puffed or pounded rice and maize. Potent rice, wheat and barley wines are brewed locally.
Archery is the popular and perennial national sport played usually with bamboo bows and arrows. An integral part of most festivities, archery matches are gala affairs with music, dances, drinks and fun.
The ancient and traditional forms of music and dance of the different regions in Bhutan, usually loaded with sacred symbolism, have been scrupulously preserved. The gentle grace of the folk dances and the dramatic gusto of the energetic and resplendent masked dances are bound to leave a lasting impression on visitors.
MUSIC & DANCE
Bhutanese religious dances are called "CHAM" and there are a large number of them. Dancers wear spectacular costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade often decorated with ornaments of carved bone. For certain dances, they wear masks, which may represent animals, fearsome deities, skulls, manifestation of Guru Rimpoche or just the simple human beings.
Religious dances can be grouped into three categories; INSTRUCTIVE OR DIDACTIC DANCES; which are dramas with a moral (Dances of the princes & princesses, the Dance of the stag and the hunting dogs, the Dance of the judgement of the dead), DANCES THAT PURIFY AND PROTECT A PLACE FROM DEMONIC SPIRITS (the dance of the master of the cremation grounds, the dance of the stags, the dance of the fearsome gods, the dance of the black hats, the dance of the Ging and the Tsholing) and DANCES THAT PROCLAIM THE VICTORY OF BUDDHISM AND THE GLORY OF GURU RIMPOCHE (all dances with drums, the dance of the heroes, the dance of the celestial beings, the dance of the eight manifestations of Guru Rimpoche).
Like the dances, religious music reflects a strong Tibetan influence. Music gives rhythm to the dances and religious ceremonies, and it punctuates the singing or recitation of the texts.