People, society & Religion

PEOPLE

Bhutanese people can be generally categorized into three main ethnic groups. The Tshanglas, Ngalops and the
Lhotshampas.
The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in Lhuentse, the
Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse and finally the Monpas of
Rukha villages in WangduePhodrang. Together the multiethnic Bhutanese population number just over 700,000.


SOCIETY

Bhutanese society is free of class or a caste system. Slavery was abolished by the Third King Jigme Dorji
Wangchuck in the early 1950s through a royal edict. Though, a few organizations to empower women were
established in the past Bhutanese society has always maintained relative gender equality. In general our nation is an
open and a good-spirited society.
Living in Bhutanese society generally means understanding some accepted norms such as Driglam Namzha, the
traditional code of etiquette. Driglam Namzha teaches people a code of conduct to adhere to as members of a
respectful society. Examples of Driglam Namzha include wearing a traditional scarf (kabney) when visiting a Dzong
or an office, letting the elders and the monks serve themselves first during meals, offering felicitation scarves during
ceremonies such as marriages and promotions and politely greeting elders or seniors.
Normally, greetings are limited to saying “Kuzuzangpo” (hello) amongst equals. For seniors and elders, the
Bhutanese bow their head a bit and say “kuzuzangpo la” (a more respectful greeting). Recently, shaking hands has
become an accepted norm.
The Bhutanese are a fun-loving people fond of song and dance, friendly contests of archery, stone pitching,
traditional darts, basketball and football. We are a social people that enjoy weddings, religious holidays and other
events as the perfect opportunities to gather with friends and family.
The openness of Bhutanese society is exemplified in the way our people often visit their friends and relatives at any
hour of the day without any advance notice or appointment and still receive a warm welcome and hospitality.

RELIGION

The Bhutanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion and citizens and visitors are free to practice any form of
worship so long as it does not impinge on the rights of others. Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are also present in
the country