BHUTAN

Bhutan is a small kingdom located south of Tibet and northeast of India, known as Druk Yul, “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” The peaceful and pristine nature of Bhutan has been described by outsiders as Shangri-la, even though Bhutanese life is lived close to the land and filled with hard work. The Bhutanese live by their ancient cultural and spiritual customs and have no interest in diluting those values with those of the outside world. The concept of “Gross National Happiness” really does exist.

Religious festival, known as Tsechus, are held at various times of the year in the monasteries of the local communities. Because religion is the foundation of Bhutanese life, each festival is a celebration of ancient religious rituals comprised of dance and music. Most of the dances are performed by monks wearing elaborate costumes of silk and brocade and masks that represent animals, skulls or fearsome deities. The spectacular Cham dances bring blessings and protection from evil to the viewer - all done to the rhythm of double-sided drums, symbals and trumpets.

Red-robed monks, young and old, are seen everywhere in Bhutan. The faithful spread prayer flags by the thousands over the hillsides. Elaborately decorated prayer wheels of all sizes are numerous and are reverently spun by Buddhist devotees hoping for answered prayers and eventual enlightenment.