The National Flag
The rectangular national flag of Bhutan is diagonally segmented and depicts a white dragon across the middle. The upper part of the flag is golden yellow, which represents the secular power of the king, while the lower is orange, which is indicative of the Buddhist influence. The dragon represents Bhutan, also called Druk Yul, the kingdom of the Thunder Dragon. The white color of the Dragon represents the purity and loyalty of the people. The jewel in its claws represents the wealth and prosperity of the country and the people. The snarling mouth of the dragon expresses the strength of the male and the female protective deities of the country.
The National Emblem
The National Emblem, contained in a circle, is composed of a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between the secular and religious power; which results from the Buddhist religion in its Vajrayana form. The lotus symbolizes purity; the jewel – sovereign power; and the two dragons, male and female, stand for the name of the country – Druk Yul, the land of the Thunder Dragon.
National Tree: Cypress (Cypresses corneyana), locally called Tsenden is associated with religious places. According to legend, this tree is believed to have grown from Guru Padmasambhava’s walking stick.
National Flower: Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis), locally called Euitpel metog hoem, is a delicate blue or purple-tinged bloom with a white filament. It grows at high altitudes.
National Bird: Raven (Corvus corax Tibetanus). The tutelary god Mahakala took the form of a raven to guide the country’s unifier, Zhabdrung to Bhutan. Raven (local name Jarog) lent its name and features to the crown of the king of Bhutan.
National Animal: Takin (Budorcas taxicolor), locally called Don Gyem Tsey is chosen as a national animal because of its uniqueness and its strong association with the country’s religious history and mythology. It is a clumsy heavy animal similar to gnu and musk ox; it lives in flocks in places 4000m high and eats bamboo. Takin weighs as much as 350 kgs.
National Language: Dzongkha.
National Day is celebrated on December 17 in commemoration of the accession of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk. The 1st king of Bhutan to the throne in 1907 at Punakha Dzong.
The National Anthem
It became official in 1966. It may be roughly translated as:
In the Thunder Dragon Kingdom adorned with sandalwood,
The protector who guards the teachings of the dual system,
He, the precious and glorious ruler, causes dominion to spread,
While his unchanging person abides inconsistency,
As the doctrine of the Lord Buddha flourishes,
May the sun and peace of happiness shine on the people.
National Sport: Archery, the national sport is played practically all year. Being a vital part of all festivities, it is usually accompanied by a banquet. Spectators marvel at the dexterity of the Bhutanese and gasp at other members of a team who stand close to the target and sidestep the flying arrows with amazing speed.
Bows and arrows are made of a special kind of bamboos. Two painted wooden targets 30 by 120 cm are placed at each end of the range, which measures 120m in length. The targets are used alternately. Two teams of 11 archers compete, each man shooting two arrows. The first team to get 33 points wins the match. There are three sets and the method of scoring is complicated because arrows landing within an arrow’s length of the target also count.
Women are not allowed to touch a bow. The day before an important match, the archers will make offerings to their local deities and will refrain from sleeping at home. The best archers wear multicolored scarves tied to the back of their belts, and each time an arrow hits the bull’s eye a short victory dance is performed by the shooter’s team.
Each team is encouraged by supporters, and “cheerleaders” of women who dance and sing, praising their team while mocking the opponent with bawdy comments to make them lose their concentration.
Western-style archery was introduced in the 1980s and is played by both men and women.