Here are some interesting facts about Bhutan that you probably didn’t know
1. The architecture style at the University of Texas at El Paso was influenced by Bhutan. After two years the school opened, the buildings were destroyed by fire. In 1917, the structures were rebuilt. However, this time following the style of Bhutanese architecture. The then dean of the school was suggested by his wife, Kathleen Worrell about the style, after a picture of Bhutan appeared in the April 1914 issue of National Geographic. Since then, every building of the university followed that design.
2. Bhutan is also the first country to ban plastic. The initial ban started in 1999. However, due to the lack of alternatives at that time it failed. The reinforcement was made further in 2005, further in 2009, Waste Prevention and Management Act of Bhutan was enacted. With the effect from April 1st, 2019, Bhutan banned the plastic completely, and alternatives like homemade carrying bags, jute bags, and handwoven bags were encouraged.
3. Did you know that in Bhutan, all citizens officially become a year older on New Year’s Day? For instance, if you were born in October 2010, by the start of 2020, you would be 10 years already. This tradition, however, is fading as more people become educated. But in a common forum, Bhutanese give more priority to year than month or date. For elders, especially the illiterate ones, this tradition still functions.
4. According to section 213 and 214 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004, any acts of unnatural sex in nature are a criminal act. However, in 2019 the two clauses were repelled, thereby giving the freedom of sexual orientation and rights to LGBTIQ+.
5. In Bhutan, the death of a person has more significance than the birthday. If someone dies, the families mourn with prayers and conduct funeral and rituals 5 times for the year. Some proceed with rituals up to 3 or 5 years annually.
6. Do you know that there is a festival to welcome black-necked crane? Yes, there is and it’s celebrated on 11th November annually at Gangtey Goenpa. This rare bird is revered by the Bhutanese as a heavenly bird. During the winter months, they migrate from the Tibetan plateau to Bhutan. The festival is an occasion for the locals to rejoice and celebrate the arrival of Black-necked Cranes and is organized to generate awareness, provide economic incentives for local communities and form an avenue for the locals to renew their commitment to conserving the cranes.
7. Bhutan is a Buddhist country with a strong belief in myths and legends. One such is the legend of Yeti. There are also beliefs like every mountain or lake is protected by a deity and harming those places would bring ill to oneself. You cannot as well, pee or smoke in every place. This would anger the deity and cause you harm. In the olden days, these beliefs were so prevalent and were a means to stop people from doing unethical activities at times when nobody was watching.
8. Bhutan has a very unique architecture. But more surprisingly, in the past, Bhutanese architecture, especially Dzongs or fortresses were built with stone, mud and timber. Moreover, no nails were used while constructing the Dzongs. In the parts where joints were necessary, they used wooden or bamboo pegs. Further, Dzongs were built according to the architect’s mental plans. This means that no graphs or drawings were laid out.
Content Contributed by BISHU BHAKTA RAI