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Language & Culture

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Language


Bhutan is linguistically rich with more than 16 languages spoken in the country. The national language and one of the official languages is Dzongkha, the native language of the districts of western Bhutan. English is widely spoken as is Tshangla, the language spoken by the people of most eastern districts.


Culture


The Bhutanese culture is predominantly Buddhist. The tangible culture is characterized by flamboyant religious festivals called tshechu. Neighbourliness, hospitality, eating and drinking as part of social life are characteristic of Bhutanese culture. Rice is the staple diet of Bhutan accompanied by a spicy curry. A typical Bhutanese meal consists of rice, a dish of ema datshi (chilli and cheese) or a meat item. Bhutanese curries are loaded with a heavy dose of hot chillies. Today, a wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many restaurants. Arranged marriages and cross-cousin marriages are common in the countryside. But the practice is less common among the literate Bhutanese living in the towns who choose love marriages. Marriages are simple affairs and are usually kept low-key. However, elaborate ceremonies are common among elites. One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese culture is traditional dress. Men wear the gho, a knee-length wraparound tied at the waist by a woven belt known as kera. Women wear the kira, a long, ankle-length dress resembling kimono accompanied by a light outer jacket known as tego with an inner layer known as wonju. The tribal and nomadic people living in the highlands generally wear distinctive ethnic clothing.