02-Religion-PicBhutan is the only country in the world where Buddhism is observed as the state religion, and her monarchy is Buddhist in the same way that Nepal’s monarchy is Hindu. Other religions are Hindu followed by some of the southern dwellers. Of late Christianity is emerging and gaining footing as well.

Until the advent of Guru Rimpoche, a great saint who ensured the flourishing of Buddhism in Bhutan, the people practiced the shamanic religion of Mon Choed and Boen Choed, the evidence of which can be witnessed to this day in some of the practices of people in the rural pockets of Bhutan. One has to wait until the 7th century to find the earliest texts referring to the development of Buddhism in Bhutan. They relate the construction of Kyichu lhakhang in Paro and Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang by the Tibetain king Songsten Gyembo who made some efforts to spread Buddhism. But it was only with the arrival of Guru Rinpoche who had been invited to cure an ailing king sometime in 747 that Budddhism really began to spread. Most Bhutanese homes have a special room used for prayers which is known as choesum.

Buddhism is still vibrant and alive. The Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels punctuate the Bhutanese landscape. The chime of ritual bells, sound of gongs, people circumambulating temples and stupas, fluttering prayer flags, red robed monks conducting rituals, among many others are all living case in point to reveal that Buddhism is an essential ingredient of a Bhutanese life.