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Religion – Buddhism

The national flag of Bhutan has a white dragon placed diagonally on yellow and orange background. The white dragon, yellow and orange background has its own significance as the white dragon represents purity, the jewels held in its claws represents wealth and perfection of the country: the yellow and orange background stands for secular power of the king and Buddhist religion respectively. The national emblem consists of a double diamond thunderbolt, which is situated right above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons, all contained within a circle. All the above figures have significant representations. For an instance, the thunderbolt stands for harmony developed between secular and religious power resulting from the Vajrayana form of Tibetan Buddhism, the lotus signifies purity, the jewel denotes sovereign power and the two dragons (male and female) represents the name of the country (Drukyul-the land of the thunder dragon).

The countries lying in Himalayas do follow Buddhism but among them Bhutan is the only country that keeps Mahayana Buddhism alive in its Tantric Vajrayana form. Drukpa Kagyupa and Nyingmapa schools are the main institutes were Mahayana form of Buddhism is being practiced precisely. Buddhism connects all strata of society, linking multiple aspects of the culture. Most probably, religion is the sole of arts, festivals and considerably large number of individuals. The presence of numerous religion-based figures and institutes like monasteries, temples and stupas, monks and tulkus (reincarnations of high lamas) clearly symbolize that religion plays a vital role in the country.

Despite Shabdrung being regarded as the founder of the nation, the secular realm has achieved an unprecedented degree of unity under the guidance of hereditary monarchs. Bhutan practices religion and politics sidebyside and thus, within a cultural context where the spiritual and temporal spheres are intimately connected, political leadership remains interpreted as divinely determined. The royal family has its roots developed from great Sixteenth Century saint PemaLingpa, and the present monarch still enjoys a god-like status throughout his Kingdom. The Forth Drukgyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck as the head of state now rules the Kingdom, with the throne retaining its position as the fulcrum of the political system.

Although Bhutanese art has developed some of its own derivation, it possesses a major Tibetan influence. The Bhutanese arts have three main characteristics: it is anonymous, religious and performs no independent aesthetic function. Fine paintings on walls and Thangkas, historical writing and fine sculpted images possess a religious theme in common. Depending on its role, these may be interpreted as profound by artisans rather than artists. All these arts are viewed as sacred, and also newly commissioned paintings and sculptures are consecrated through a special ceremony to personify the respective deities.

Even though Buddhism as well as the monarchy is critical elements, Bhutan’s culture is not an exception. This is mostly reflected in the nature of dress and architecture. The Bhutanese people do continue to wear the traditional dress: Gho for gents and Kira for ladies. The designs and patterns differ from a simple one to more complicated ones and also, the fibers do differ in quality and quantity.

The land of Bhutan is composed of Chortens, monasteries, temples, stonewalls, fortresses, houses and mansions. Though a number of clear-cut architectural concepts and building types rooted from Tibetan Buddhism, there is a strong connection between state, religion and secular forms. The peculiar nature of these arts is the degree of uniformity. Hence, ancient monasteries and fortresses appear to combine together with more modern popular ones to create a setting that is consistent internally.