Bhutan – a country with a Ministry of Happiness
The small state of Bhutan is lost somewhere in the mountains of Tibet. Its system, ways and life in general are very interesting and unlike any other country. For example, almost all the locals wear the national clothing, which is called Kho.
And they are almost all vegetarians: it is simply forbidden to kill animals in the country. There is no crime, no hunger, and people live in joy. Bhutanese are hospitable, open-minded, respectful of their culture, and not at all corrupted by the modern world. No chemical fertilizers can be brought into the country, so all the food that grows on this land is organic.
The only country that has a Ministry of Happiness
And this is actually no joke. Even Bhutan’s constitution has a clause that the government is committed to the happiness of every citizen, and they have a “Commission for General People’s Happiness” headed by the prime minister. Moreover, the question “Are you happy?” is asked during the census. And do you know how the locals answered it during the last signature-gathering process? 45.2% of residents said “very happy,” 51.6% said “happy,” and some 3.3% said “not very happy.”
Bhutan is also different from the rest in that they do not have a globally accepted concept of gross domestic product. Instead, back in 1972, the current king introduced another measure of quality of life – gross national happiness. And, as you understand, it is not about material wealth, but about moral and spiritual values. So Bhutan can be called the happiest country.
The best country for enlightenment
In Bhutan, forests are not cut down, they are planted. And the country, despite its small area (38.5 thousand square kilometers), is still poorly explored and not developed by people, so there are huge protected areas with wonderful flora and fauna.
And it is also the only country where the official religion is Tantric Buddhism, which is proclaimed their “spiritual heritage”. So this is the best place for meditation and enlightenment. True, tourists are not particularly welcome here: in order to visit the country, you must prove your financial solvency. And it is not a small amount: a day must be spent at least 250 dollars. So the government is trying to preserve the way of life of the country and a unique culture.
Some other interesting facts about Bhutan
Fact #1 . Bhutan is the last country on the planet to lift the ban on television. This happened in 1999.
Fact #2 . Marijuana in Bhutan grows like a bush, for a very long time it was only used for animal feed. It became widely known in the country that it was a drug when the ban on television was lifted.
Fact #3 . Many buildings in Bhutan have a phallus on them. And this is not the tricks of hooligans, it is a symbol of fertility and good luck.
Moreover, there is even a Chimi Lakhang Monastery, which houses several artificial phalluses. The temple was founded in honor of Lama Drukpa Kyunle, who preached an unusual kind of Buddhism: he was fond of women, wine, and painted phalluses on houses to ward off evil spirits. Women who want to have children go to Chimi Lakhang, and all those who ask are hit on the head by the abbot with an artificial relic, blessing them to conceive.
Fact #4 . In the kingdom of Bhutan smoking in public places has been banned since the 17th century and the sale of tobacco was banned in 2004. For smoking you can get a hefty fine, the only exceptions are tourists and diplomats. True, there is a black market for tobacco.
Fact #5 . Bhutan has a peculiar funeral rite: people are not buried or cremated but… fed to wild animals or birds.
Fact #6 . Friend Yul is how the Bhutanese call their country. It means “the land of the dragon-thunderer.
Fact #7 . The crime rate in Bhutan is very low, in rural areas the locals don’t lock their doors at night at all.
Fact #8 . Education and health care in the country are completely free.
Fact #9 . The average age of Bhutanese is 23 years old, and one third of the population is not yet 14 years old.
Fact #10 . Thimphu is probably the last capital of Asia without a single traffic light.
In fact, traffic lights were once tried here, but over the objections of the locals they were removed and the traffic controllers returned to the roads.
Fact #11 . There are special manners of eating in Bhutan: you must refuse when you are offered food. But after the second or third offer, you can give up)
Fact #12 . It has been illegal to use plastic bags in Bhutan since 1999.
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The Kingdom of Bhutan and its Ministry of Happiness
It is likely that the bustle and chaos in people’s lives would be a serious threat to our planet if it were not for the reliable counterbalance to the peace and tranquility that persists in some corners on Earth. One such corner is a small Himalayan state, the Kingdom of Bhutan. This kingdom remains a mysterious territory that attracts more and more travelers. The country has recently opened its doors to foreigners and is doing so cautiously. Foreign nationals must, in addition to a visa, pay a fee of approximately $250 per day. In this way, the Himalayans, by restricting the flow of tourists, protect the nature and culture inherent in Bhutan. A trip to Bhutan is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Happiness is silence in the soul. This is the sincere belief of the people of the Kingdom of Bhutan. And peace of mind is when you don’t have any desires.
Bhutan is located in the Himalayas between China and northeast India. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy and the religion is Tantric Buddhism. There are about 700,000 people, mostly rural, living on an area of about 47,000 square kilometers. About 60% of Bhutan is occupied by National Parks and Reserves.
In the remote mountainous country there are no minerals. Apparently, for this reason, no major state has made Bhutan a territory of its interests.
Bhutanese love their young 36-year-old king. He married “for love” to a young student. The king constantly travels around the country and takes an interest in how people live. So many Bhutanese can say they have met him personally. Also in Bhutan, they love the great Guru Rimpoche and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The first started preaching Buddhism in the middle of the eighth century in the lands of Bhutan. The second one in the 17th century defended the integrity of the country and built many well-protected monasteries – dzongs. The Kingdom of Bhutan loves all living things: human beings, including the snowman in one of the reserves, delightful nature and animals. Buddhism recognizes the killing of an animal as a mortal sin. Judging by the number and diversity of animals in Bhutan, even predators adhere to this strict rule.
The people of Bhutan move through the mountains with long-haired yak oxen, which have the unique gift of unmistakably finding the narrow mountain trail under a layer of snow. European tourists who joined the caravan were surprised that every evening the yaks, freed from their heavy burdens, were released into the mountains untethered. The next day the yaks were picked up before noon. To their question the Europeans received the truly Buddhist answer that every living creature has the right to at least temporary freedom.
Researchers of human happiness recognize Bhutan as the happiest country in the world. It sounds implausible, but Bhutan’s most important ministry is the Ministry of Happiness. And the royal family sincerely believes the happiness of Bhutanese people is much more important than the growth of Gross Domestic Product. Bhutan is a place where the pursuit of happiness should be everyone’s goal. A commission on people’s happiness has been specially formed to inquire during the census how happy the residents of the state are. According to the latest census data, only 3.3% of citizens do not consider themselves too happy.
Curiously enough, instead of GDP (gross domestic product), Bhutan uses GNH (gross national happiness). The Ministry of Happiness cannot be found anywhere else on earth, only in this wonderful country. It turns out that national politics in this country is governed by happiness.
This country is truly unique and wonderful, because people here are really happy. There is no unrest, no anger, and no poverty. Everywhere you can meet people who are friendly and ready to communicate. The people here worship and honor their ancestors. And also local culture and traditions are highly valued.
Dru Yul is how the people of Bhutan call their homeland, which means “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. The Dragon himself lives on the sacred mountain Jomolhari and eats snow and ice from the mountain tops. Good monster in Bhutan is seen by everyone except tourists.
In the land of monks and monasteries reverently preserved the ancient culture of Tibet. The age of the novice monk is 6-9 years old.
The festivals of Bhutan are marked by Buddhist rituals and masked dances. Anyone can take part in the festivities and take pictures as a memento. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle – go to the east of the country to admire a quieter festival, such as the Mongar Festival.
Dzongas, these majestic monasteries scattered throughout the country, represent religious, political and administrative centers, impressive in their beauty and geographical location. The most mythical are Punakha-dzong, Trongsa-dzong, and Paro-dzong.
In Bhutan there are no locks and doors are not locked. Amulets protect Bhutanese homes from the evil influence of evil spirits. In their national sport of archery, Bhutanese excel at the World Olympics. During daylight hours, Bhutanese are required to wear their national dress so as not to lose their culture. Smoking has been banned in Bhutan since the 17th century, and the sale of tobacco was also banned in 2004. There are no beggars or homeless people in the land of happiness.
There are no precise time limits in the normal routine of the people. If the caravan goes to the mountains, it is “for a long time.
A vegetarian lifestyle is common to many Bhutanese. Religion does not allow the inhabitants to kill living creatures. To spice up your trip, you must try Bhutan’s cuisine. It would be a shame to leave without trying a typical dish such as Ema Datsi. A kind of casserole based on cheese and paprika. Although Bhutanese food is often vegetarian, you will always find meat (beef, pork, poultry) with white or red rice and vegetables as a side dish. Meat is imported into the country, or used from dead or slaughtered in a special way animals and birds (a special license for this is issued to Hindus living in Bhutan). And, of course, everything is accompanied by tea with sugar, milk, or, as in Tibet, oil and salt!
The importation of chemical fertilizers for crops is not allowed in the country. Only organic and natural products can be found here. Forests are not cut down here, on the contrary, people are planting trees. The terrain of this state has not yet been fully explored. There are areas that are still untouched by man.
The prohibition on logging and hunting animals, plays a big role in the fact that nature to this day retains its original appearance. Despite this, everyone has everything they need to live: food, clothing, and everything else. The streets are characterized by their crystal cleanliness. Even the clean streets of European countries do not compare. In Bhutan the garbage is thoroughly sorted.
Tourism in Bhutan was authorized in 1974 and before that you can become a guest of the country only with personal invitation of the king or queen.
The best time to visit Bhutan is between October and April to avoid getting caught during the summer monsoon. Winter is probably quite harsh. Fall or spring remains the best time to take advantage of the pleasant climate. Fans of Himalayan scenery will be enchanted by the beautiful mountain views. They will also discover that Bhutan is a true haven for rhododendrons!
Even 50 years ago, Bhutan, lost in the Himalayas, had no external connections. Today, visitors to the country need roads, service and communications. So progress does not pass Bhutan, although the main thing for the country is to preserve Buddhist values, purity in the thoughts of its people and pristine freshness of the environment. The construction of highways in Bhutan began half a century ago. There are no markings on the highways, road signs are very rare, and the country knows no traffic lights. For safety reasons, the speed limit is 15 km per hour. The railroads are still only in projects. Telephone service appeared in Bhutan at the end of the last century, television in 1999. Television came as a shock to Bhutanese, who were unprepared for the avalanche of new information and pictures of violence. Fights broke out in Bhutanese schools!
Paro Airport, the only airport in Bhutan, is located in a mountain gorge, where on takeoff, the plane must take off over the mountains almost without acceleration, because the runway is precipitated by a steep mountain. Only a few pilots in the world are authorized to land and take off at Paro.
Still, Buddhism or Communism? Bhutan is a country of smiling people. They are happy with what they have. After visiting Bhutan, tourists from the former Soviet Union remember that they have once heard about this life. And indeed, we “went through it” at school. Such a way of life is nothing short of utopian communism. But in the conditions of an advanced human civilization it is only a beautiful dream!
Scientists have recently come to the conclusion that the intensity of human happiness varies parabolically. We are happy in childhood, fussy during adulthood, and “settle down” by old age. But life in little Bhutan is an exception to this pattern. After all, Bhutanese happiness is like a huge birthday cake. And every inhabitant is entitled to a small slice of it before he or she is even born. And the intensity of Bhutanese happiness is just a straight line long as a human life.