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A peek into Bhutan's Happiness & Well -being



Permaculture: Permanent-culture

A creative and artful way of living, where people and nature are all preserved and enhanced by,

  • thoughtful planning

  • the careful use of resources

  • & a respectful approach to life.


It was our first journey to Bhutan, the land of happiness. We traveled with kaarwan.india. Have you ever visited Bhutan? What interested you in Bhutan? As a Permaculture Designer, I was keen to observe the varied landforms of Bhutan, the lifestyle of people, their culture, vegetation & co-existence of other lifeforms. Here are some insights I would like to share with you that I learned on my travel.


What makes Bhutan, the land of Happiness?

Bhutan is today best known as a far-off nation that supports a distinctive developmental paradigm based on equality, cultural and ecological preservation, and happiness. Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) is a philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan. People here follow a lifestyle giving importance to their traditions and indigenous culture. They give priority to psychological well-being. And art is like a religion to the people of Bhutan.


Let us make a travel to the lives of Bhutan


Simtokha Dzong
Simtokha Dzong

Natural and Traditional Architecture


Dzongs are fortress monasteries. With its use of stone masonry, wattle and daub, rammed earth, and elaborate woodwork around windows and roofs, Bhutanese architecture continues to be distinctly traditional. Simtokha Dzong is the first built dzong in Bhutan during the 17th century. One can find detailed artwork in these structures. Unfortunately, these natural & traditional touch-in structures are now taken over by cement.








Prayer wheel
Prayer wheel

Honoring art & religion


The picture is of a prayer wheel found at the entrance of Simatokha Dzong. There are about 300 carvings made of slate that depict saints and philosophers and inscriptions of mantras on these prayer wheels. Bhutanese society has been a largely oral society. Of the 19 languages present in the country, most of them are exclusively oral.









Wood carving
Wood carving

Arts


The Choki Traditional Art School in Thimpu Province, Bhutan, offers free training in traditional Bhutanese crafts, such as weaving, wood carving, and painting, providing education to economically disadvantaged youth while revitalizing the fading cultural arts. These artworks are one of the sources of income for the community.









Peepal tree near temple
Peepal tree near temple

Temple & nature conservation


Traditional beliefs and cultural myths play a very important role in conserving the environment in Bhutan. There are trees which are years old serving as keystone species. Found about 8 different species of birds in this single Peepal tree. And is also habitat to other organisms, fungus, lichens...









Women wearing "Kira" & Men - "Gho"
Women wearing "Kira" & Men wearing "Gho"

Clothing tradition


Bhutan's clothing is an everyday statement of the country’s heritage or the rich Bhutanese textile-weaving tradition. The textiles are predominately woven from yak wool/hair, sheep and cocoon of moths in northern and central Bhutan, while cotton, nettle, hemp, and silk are commonly used in the eastern and southern regions. The yarns were dyed using vegetable and naturally available dyes.

Although they are now mostly imported and dresses are machine made.







Flower garden
Flower garden

Biodiversity


Every homestead has a beautifully maintained flower garden. Floral nectar, pollen, and even petals of varied colors & smells serve as food sources for pollinators and other insects. Insects create the biological foundation for all terrestrial ecosystems. They cycle nutrients, pollinate plants, disperse seeds, maintain soil structure and fertility, control populations of other organisms, and provide a major food source for other. Though the introduction of exotic species is an emerging concern.





Offerings in Temple
Offerings in Temple

Seed saving


The image shows the seeds of Oroxylum indica (Indian Trumpet Tree) offered in a temple in Bhutan. Seed saving is a common practice in Bhutan. There are people still using the traditional varieties of seeds saved from generations.











Farming
Farming

Farming life


Due to modernization, traditional farming practices have been forgotten. People are into commercial agricultural practices (monocropping, fertilizers) that decrease biodiversity & weaken the ecological succession. Corn (maize), potatoes, rice, citrus fruits, apples, and various spices, including nutmeg, mace, and cardamom, are among the chief crops. They also grow fruits in orchards.








Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry

Animal husbandry


Yaks are a crucial economic resource in the Himalayas: they are used for transportation, a source of milk, wool, meat, and most importantly butter, a fat consumed with salty tea to avoid the harsh cold. Over the past few years, the number of yaks had reduced due to climate change, wildlife killings, loss of pasture lands, diseases...










Local food in markets
Local food in markets

Local cuisine


Rices, Potato, Wild ferns, Mushrooms, Yak meat, cheese & milk are the major food items of Bhutan. They are commonly available in the market. To escape from the cold they also are used in having locally brewed alcohol.











Broad-leaved Forests
Broad-leaved Forests

Forest Conservation & Reforestation


Bhutan has about 71% forest cover (comprising broad-leaved & coniferous forests). To conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem, a minimum of 60% of Bhutan’s total land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time.

The forests are rich in bog plants. Bogs are ecologically important because they absorb great amounts of precipitation. They prevent flooding and absorb runoff. They are habitat to various insect lives. They are also carbon sinks.






Water wheel
Water wheel

Water resource


Bhutan is perhaps one of the few countries rich in freshwater. All waters from Bhutan flow to India then to Bangladesh and end up in the Bay of Bengal (as Five large and dozens of minor rivers). Clouds from the Bay of Bengal rise and fly to the Himalayas to get condensed into water or ice. High altitude, continuous mountain ranges, and clouds intercepting mountains complete the water cycle.







Hydroelectric Projects of Bhutan


Hydroelectric Projects in Bhutan are one of the major income sources for the nation. Bhutan operates four major hydroelectric facilities, several small and mini hydroelectric generators.

On the other side, the Environmental Impacts of major Hydro power constructions on the riverine ecology, ground water aquifers, forest covers, groundwater, and watershed areas are unseen.






Carbon-Negative


World's first carbon-negative country. Mainly due to its extensive forests and its exportation of renewable energy abroad. Else waste management in the country is yet a challenge. Urbanization and tourism are creating a major impact on increasing waste generation.








Paper industry


Another major source of income. Handmade paper industries are an age-old handicraft tradition still prevailing in Bhutan. One can find beautifully painted postcards made out of them to send to our loved ones.












You can also view a presentation of Bhutan from a Permaculture perspective. Enjoy reading!

Bhutan
.pdf
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