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Bhutan

Not much is known about the history of Bhutan because of its long seclusion from rest of the world. New explorations have suggested about the presence of men around this region in 2000 BC, but written history dates back to 2nd century AD only. Buddhism as the supreme religion and a way of life was introduced in Bhutan in 8th century when Indian Buddhist monk Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) came to Bhutan and established many monasteries. The Drukpa sub - sect of Kagyud school of Mahayan Buddhism was established as orthodoxy by scholar Padmalingpa in the 15th/16th century.

The rise of Drukpa sect also led to establishment of the theocracy of Druk - yul by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1616. Shabdrung is considered as the person who unified the country and constructed most of the remarkable temple - fortresses known as dzongs. He also started the dual system of spiritual and temporal leaders that was ended by Sir Ugyen Wangchuk in the late 19th century. Sir Ugyen Wangchuk became the first hereditary king of the country and its first reference to modernity. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, father of the present king, is considered as the "father of modern Bhutan"since most of the developments that led the country towards modernity started during his reign. The present king Jigme Singye Wangchuck became the fourth monarch in 1974 and his coronation ceremony saw the entry of foreign media for the first time in the country. The first foreign tourist group entered the country very next year and started the process of restricted entry of tourists to save the culture and environment.


IMPORTANT FESTIVALS AND EXHIBITIONS

Most of the festivals (tsechus) in Bhutan have some or other connection with Buddhism. These festivals are celebrated in the Dzongs with dances, music, and religious allegorical plays. Some of the important festivals include Bhutanese New Year in January/February, Buddha Parinirvana and birthday of Guru Padmasambhava in May/June, first sermon of Buddha and Yar Nyidlok in June/July, Blessed Rainy Day, Thimphu Domchey, and Tsechhu, and Nine Evils' Day.




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