Religion and People


Religion

Buddhism is practiced throughout the country. All most all the Bhutanese are Buddhist. In the south, most Bhutanese people of Nepali and Indian origin practiced Hinduism. Before the arrival of Buddhism to Bhutan, various forms of animistic religion such as bonism were followed by people in Bhutan. In some parts of the country, we can still see, these traditions and rituals are still practiced by minority groups.

Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 8th century. After this, Bhutan has become home to many sages and saints. The official state religion of Bhutan belongs to the Drukpa sect of Kagyudpa, school of tantric Mahayana Buddhism, the Great Vehicle. It is similar to the Tibetan Buddhism, yet it has its own set of unique beliefs and practices.

The religion in Bhutan is strongly supported by the all walks of life. Monks, nuns and gomchens (lay priest) play a very important role in the people’s daily lives. The monk body also includes monks, nuns and gomchens who are not part of state sponsored institutions. Bhutanese people are very pious and the importance of the Buddhism is evident in its every aspect of life in the Bhutanese people.

People

The people of Bhutan can be divided into three main ethnic groups: The “Sharchops”, who live in the east of the country and are believed to be the original inhabitants. The “Ngalongs”, who live mostly in western Bhutan and are the descendants of Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Bhutan from the 9th century, The “Lhotshampas”, settled in the south of Bhutan in the late 19th century. The Lhotshampa (meaning Southern Bhutanese) represent Nepali- speaking groups.

Bhutan is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with 79 percent of the people living in rural areas.

Bhutan is the only country to maintain Mahayana Buddhism in its Tantric Vajrayana form as the official religion. The main practicing schools are the state sponsored Drukpa Kagyupa and the Nyingmapa. Whereas Buddhism is the main religion in the northern and eastern Bhutan, Southern Bhutanese are mainly Hindus.

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