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People & Society

The Population

Bhutan has a population of over 600,000 which comprises of multi ethnic and multi lingual society.

Kurtoeps

The inhabitants of Lhuentse district and along the bank of Kurichu river are called Kurtotpa. The women from Khoma Valley of Lhuentse are weavers and are known for their skills in weaving the grandiose Kushithara (textiles).

Tshanglas (Sharchops)

The people of the eastern Bhutan are called Tshanglas (descendants of Lord Brahma), popularly known as Sharchops or the easterners who speak Tshanglakha. Weaving is a popular occupation of women. They produce beautiful fabrics mainly of silk and raw silk.

Bumthaps

The people who dwells in the central Bhutan are called The Bumthaps, Mangdeps and Khengpas. They speak Bumtapkha, Mangdepkha and khengkha respectively. The Bumthaps rear yaks and sheep. They also produce fabrics of wool and yak hair. The khengpas are known for the bamboo and cane craft.

Ngalops

The people of western Bhutan who speak Dzongkha are called Ngalongs. The polished version of Dzongkha is national language of Bhutan.

Brokpas

The extreme northeast is inhabited by Brokpas. They are the semi nomads who live in the villages of Merak and Sakteng and thrive on rearing yaks and sheep. They speak Bro kad, the language of the Brokpas.In summer they move to the pastures in the higher lands with their yaks and sheep and in winter they return to live in their houses, normally built of stones with small ventilation to protect from the piercing cold weather.

Lhotshampas

The people inhabiting the southern part of the country are called Lhotshanpas. They speak Lhotshamkha which is similar to Nepali language and practice Hinduism. There are also the Lhops, popularly known as Doyas. Doyas are the tribal people who are settled in Dorokha. They have a dialect of their own and dress in their own unique style.

Layaps

Like the Brokpas people inhabiting the northern part of the country in the west are called Layaps. This semi nomad speaks Layapkha.

The Bhutanese society

There is no class and caste system in Bhutan. There are some organizations to empower woman. Bhutanese have been gender sensitive, an open and a good spirited society.

Driglam Namzha, the traditional etiquette is the basic norms one should know while living in Bhutanese society. Following these norms enables the members of the society conduct themselves. Some of the examples of following these norms are wearing a scarf while visiting dzongs and monasteries, offering felicitation scarves when someone gets promotion, letting the elders and monks serve themselves first, greetings the elders and seniors before they wish you. This simple but basic practice synchronizes our society.

It is wrong to touch anyone’s head or stretch your feet in public as the head is considered sacred and legs impure.

Kuzuzangpo among equals and kuzuzangpola to the seniors is the limited greetings. Bhutanese bow down while greeting the seniors. Shaking hands has gain popularity in the urban parts of the country.

The Bhutanese people are fun loving. Dancing, singing, playing archery, stone pitching, partying, and social gatherings are common things that one sees. Visiting friends at anytime of the day without advance notice depicts the openness of Bhutanese society.