Culture and religion Cradled in the folds of the Himalayas, Bhutan has relied on its geographic isolation to protect itself from outside cultural influences. A sparsely populated country bordered by India to the south, and China to the north, Bhutan has long maintained a policy of strict isolationism, both culturally and economically, with the goal of preserving its cultural heritage and independence. Only in the last decades of the 20th century were foreigners allowed to visit the country, and only then in limited numbers. In this way, Bhutan has successfully preserved many aspects of its culture, which dates directly back to the mid-17th century.
Modern Bhutanese culture derives from ancient culture. This culture affected the early growth of this country.Dzongkha and Sharchop, the principal Bhutanese languages, are closely related to Tibetan, and Bhutanese monks read and write the ancient variant of the Tibetan language, known as chhokey. The Bhutanese are physically similar to the Tibetans, but history does not record when they crossed over the Himalayas and settled in the south-draining valleys of Bhutan. Both Tibetans and Bhutanese revere the tantric guru, Padmasambhava, the founder of Himalayan Buddhism in the 8th century
It is practiced throughout the entire country by 75% of the inhabitants. Hinduism – closely related to Buddhism, is Bhutan’s second religion, practiced by about 25% of the population. Before Buddhism captured the heart of Bhutan, several forms of animistic religions were practiced. Minority groups still practice these traditions and rituals in some parts of the country.
Buddhism plays a fundamental role in the cultural, ethical and sociological development of Bhutan and its’ people. You see this in the reverence Bhutan’s inhabitants have for their land, other people and animals. To ensure that Buddhism stays vividly alive, one son from every family usually attends a monastic school. The three main themes of Buddhism are detachment, ephemerality and change.