Traditions & Rituals

The distinctiveness of Bhutanese traditions and rituals are visible in everyday life of its people. The unique culture of Bhutan is also a means of protecting the sovereignty of the nation. As a tiny county in terms of geographical size and population, the need to preserve culture and tradition is amplified.


The birth of child in Bhutan is welcomed without gender discrimination. The outsiders visit the child only after first three days, when a purification ritual (Lhabsang) is conducted in the house, since the house is considered polluted by kaydrip (defilement by birth) prior to that. Gifts are brought for the newborn and these range from rice and dairy products in the rural area to clothes and money in the urban

The child is not named immediately and the name is usually given by a religious person. The horoscope of the newborn known as kye tsi is written based on the Bhutanese calendar and from time to time rituals are executed in the lifetime of the newborn as a remedy to possible illness, problems and misfortune. Moreover, the tradition of celebrating birthdays did not exist earlier in Bhutan, but it is now becoming popular in urban areas.


Traditionally, arrange marriages were popular in Bhutan till a few decades back. People generally married among relatives, like cross-cousin marriage was popular in eastern Bhutan. This is now becoming unpopular among the literate mass and most marriages take place based on personal choice.

Marriages are conducted in simple ways with a small ritual being performed by a religious person, followed by a dinner reception in some cases. The couple is presented with scarves (khadar) along with gifts from friends and relatives. The tradition of husband going to the wife’s house after marriage is prevalent in western Bhutan and in the eastern Bhutan it’s the reverse. This practice is not mandatory and the new couple may set up their own household. Divorce is accepted in the Bhutanese society and carries no stigma.


Rituals and traditions associated with death are most elaborate and expensive in Bhutan, since it does not mean the end of life, but signifies passing on to another life. Many rituals are performed to help the departed soul get a better rebirth, with rituals taking place after the 7th, 14th, 21st and the 49th day of the death. Elaborate rituals are also performed on the death anniversary for the three consecutive years with the erection of prayer flags in the name of the deceased. Alcohol, rice and other sundry items are brought by relatives and other people who come to attend these rituals.