A fine selection of Buddhist experiences paired with an excellent farm visit topped off with generous shots of ara – Bhutan has a wealth of enriching cultural experiences that will leave you brimming with joy and in high spirits – figuratively and literally!
From a large cultural selection, here are some of the unique cultural experiences to seek while in Bhutan.
You are at the ‘rice bowl’ of Bhutan so, a farm visit is a must. And we recommend going full native to enjoy the experience to its fullest. That means wearing traditional clothing, working and feasting along with the host family. You can enjoy long walks along the valley and later relax in a hot stone bath. Watch and learn how those local foods are cooked. Yes, they taste as good as it looks. Sometimes way better.
That’s the essence of rural life. Hard work, quality time with family and great conversations made greater with generous servings of ara (local rice wine). It’s heavenly.
Brew Some Ara
The highly spiritual nation also knows the secrets to quality spirits. The local wine ara is an integral part of daily life here. You will get to enjoy generous doses and the chance to learn the craft of concocting this high-quality tipple with a variety of grains. And here’s a secret–every variety is simply superb. Probably the right mix of spirituality and spirits is the secret behind the high happiness quotient in the country.
155. That’s the number of Buddhist temples and monasteries in this quaint little town of Paro. But it ain’t too much considering the spiritual culture of this land. Visiting all of these might be a huge task, but we won’t discourage you from trying. Some of the spiritual abodes are on the plains, others on top of the hills. And each one wonderful in its own way. It’s a spiritual quest worth the effort.
But if time is a constraint, we have a great recommendation to give you an all-round experience. Visit any of the nearby temples and attend a spirit-cleansing blessing ceremony. If you liked this, then also take part in the butter lamp lighting ceremony too.
If you have queries about the religion and its philosophy, spend a day at one of the monasteries. The monks will be quite happy to converse with you. Plus, you will get to see how ascetic life works. Learn a few chants and songs. It’s therapeutic.
Amidst all the fun, you might still wonder what Gross National Happiness really means. You will get that doubt cleared by attending a Dharma Talk or culture conversations with a renowned Bhutanese mystic. Don’t just limit your questions to Gross National Happiness, satisfy your curiosity about the intricate ideologies of Bhutanese culture. Or stay silent and just soak in the knowledge. Either way, you will return enlightened.