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Many languages are spoken in Bhutan. Currently there are around 19 languages and dialects spoken in the country. The National language is Dzongkha and the other prominent languages are English, Nepali and Sharchop (Eastern Bhutanese dialect). During the olden days, Dzongkha was spoken mostly by the poeple who worked in Dzongs (Fortress). Dzongs were the seat of the administrative and spiritual leaders. As Bhutan slowly progressed and became united under the rule of 1 man, the Bhutanese felt the necessity of a common language to communicate, and hence Dzongkha was introduced as the National language of Bhutan. Dzongkha literally translates to "Language of the Fortress).
Composed in 1953 by the then appointed leader of the military brass band, Aku Tongmi, it consisted of twelve lines. It was later shortened to the current six line version in 1964. A fun fact: It is the only national anthem in the world which has its own choreography. It is known as "Druk Tsenden Key Pei Gyalkhab Na" which means "In the Land of The Thunder Dragon where Cypress grows".
National Anthem of Bhutan (Original Bhutanese Lyrics)
Druk tsendhen koipi gyelkhap na
Lug nyi ki tenpa chongwai gyon
Pel mewang ngadhak rinpo chhe
Ku jurmey tenching chhap tsid phel
Chho Sangye ten pa goong dho phel
Bang dey kyed nyima shar warr sho.
The Thunder Dragon Kingdom of Cypress
In the Thunder Dragon Kingdom, where cypresses grow
Refuge of the glorious monastic and civil traditions,
The glorious King of Druk, precious soverign,
His being is eternal, his reign prosperous.
May the teachings of the Blessed one thrive and flourish!
May the sun of peace and happiness shine on the people!
The Takin (Burdorcastaxicolor), a rare endangered species related to the sheep is the national animal. Locally known as Dong Gyem Tsey and the Takin has a strong association to the religious history and mythology of the country. It is a mammal which lives in groups and has distinct appearance.
The Raven (Corvus Corax Tibetanus) is the national bird of Bhutan. It is also an avatar of the chief guardian deity Jarog Dongchen. The Raven adorns the crown of the Druk Gyalpo
Cypress (Cypresses corneyana/ Cupressus tololusa) is believed to have sprouted from the walking staff of Guru Rinpoche . It is locally known as Tsenden shing and is used for ritual ceremonies to purify and rid oneself of bad spirits. In Bhutan one can notice big cypresses near the religious structures. Cypress is found in the temperate climate zone, between 1800 and 3500 metres altitude. It is associated with religiou. Its capacity to survive on rugged harsh terrain is compared to bravery and simplicity.
The blue Poppy (Mecanopsis Grandis) locally known as Euitpel metog hoem is usually found in higher altitudes. It is one of the rarest flowers in the world. It is delicate blue or purple tinged blooms with a white filament. It grows to a height of 1 meter, on the rocky mountain terrain found above the tree line (3500-4500). This flower is however linked with a myth of a yeti. It was discovered in 1933 by a British Botanist, George Sherriff in remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.
The national day is celebrated on the 17th on December to mark the anniversary of the coronation of the first Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck in the year 1907.
Archery was chosen as the national sport in 1971. It is usually played during religious holidays. It is only during archery tournaments that one can get a glimpse of Bhutan’s own unique cheerleaders at work.