Ritual and Hospitality

by Dr. Ulrike Čokl Photos @Benjamin Hörbe & Ulrike Čokl “Please come for my annual ritual!” I often hear this invitation from Bhutanese friends, and immediately images come to mind of us sharing delicious food and drink while sitting on beautiful wooden floors in a Bhutanese kitchen. I always carry my little cup, phob, with me, ever ready to pull it out, unwrap it from the tora, a piece of cloth, and receive the local welcome drink. Senior villagers, observing … Read More

Kingdom of Orchids

By Dr. Heiko Hentrich All photos ©Heiko Hentrich Why Bhutan… I am a tropical botanist, who has travelled to many Latin-American countries to do field studies in remote places. As a side benefit of my job, I meet people from different cultures, and I have come to appreciate the opportunity to learn about other ways of life, customs, food, and languages. On my journeys, I usually stay with locals and prefer these private accommodations to hotels, because you learn so … Read More

“The guest of one night is like a god”

By Ulrike Cokl One evening some Bhutanese friends and I were chatting about the charm, warmth and generosity that one experiences when visiting a village home in Bhutan. Most tourists who visit the little kingdom are on a tight schedule, moving from guesthouse to guesthouse, eating the same bland food every day. They are disconnected from local experiences of commensality and conviviality so characteristic for rural life. I decided to think about ways that would allow tourists to experience Bhutanese … Read More

The Egg-Headed Beast to Rescue

By Needrup Zangpo As the greatly perplexed demon stood before the man muttering to himself ‘this is a fish-bodied, egg-headed pig-like beast’, the man sprang up and thrust his hard penis into its mouth saying, ‘If you don’t know what it is, this is what it is.’ The demon gave a sharp squeal like a pig struck unaware by an arrow and stumbled away with the front teeth smashed in. A group of travellers had just emptied a pot of … Read More

Immortal: The Story of a Bhutanese Bull

By Dendup Chophel This is the story of a beloved bull that lived long before the monstrous Japan made power tillers displaced others of his kind from their position of pride as a Bhutanese farming household’s chief preoccupation. His name was Bjan Ka Zeb (bjan dkar dzerb), named after the white furs that lined his dewlap and brisket. He was bought by my grandmother from a herd of bulls that was put up for sale by cattle traders from the … Read More

Traditional Hospitality and Travelling in Bhutan

“The guest of one night is like a god” Bhutanese proverb By Ulrike Cokl In the Kingdom of Bhutan hospitality permeates every sphere of social life, whether private or public; it infuses (religious) festivals, rituals, rites of passage from birth to death and all kinds of political and social gatherings. From the sharing of food and drinks, singing and dancing, to the exchange of gifts, goods and services, such all-encompassing traditions of hospitality are fundamental to enriching and fostering relationships, thuenlam, at every … Read More