1. Buddhism - Major Religion in BhutanOriginated from Tibet, Buddhism is practised in the country by 75% of the population of Bhutan. Bhutanese people follow the Vajrayana or the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, which plays a significant role in the cultural, traditional and social development of the country. The Tibetan immigrants and their descendants, known as the Ngalop, form a majority of the Buddhist population and reside mostly in the central- west region of Bhutan. The original residents of the country, called the Sharchops, live in east Bhutan.
You would find monks on every road of Bhutan, and monasteries and shrines on every other turn. However, the rituals and organisations of Buddhism vary from villages to villages. In monasteries one would witness monks and nuns with their head shaved and wearing maroon robes, doing their practices that include meditation, study, helping the underprivileged, and the holy chants and prayers bringing calm and peace in one’s mind.
Buddhism also reflects in the monuments, architecture and the prayer flags that are seen throughout the country. To experience the true essence of the Buddhist religion, one must pay a visit to Rinpung Dzong in Paro, Thimphu Tango Monastery, Nalanda Buddhist Institute in Punakha and take a hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Most of the schools in Bhutan also teach Buddhist practices and follow a strict disciplined system.
2. Hinduism in BhutanHinduism is the second most practised religion in Bhutan after Buddhism and comprises 22.6% of the total population. There are several Hindu temples in Bhutan, especially in southern Bhutan. Hindu Vedic Schools can also be found at different parts teaching Hindu cultures and traditions.
Bhutanese Hindus celebrate several Hindu festivals, the prominent one being Dashain or Dasera, which is the only public holiday associated with Hinduism. The Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan (HDSB) is an organisation with the motive to promote Hindu cultures and spiritual traditions across the country.
3. Christianity in BhutanRoman Catholics constitute less than 1% ( about 0.9% currently ) of the total population in Bhutan, most of which reside in the southern part of the country. Christianity set foot in Bhutan when two Portuguese, Estêvão Cacella and João Cabral, in 1627 reached this country in an attempt to go to the Jesuit Mission in Tibet.
According to the Constitution of Bhutan, one is given full religious freedom but is forbidden for any form of religious conversion. This refrains the Catholics to proselytise according to the mission of Open Doors. International Christian relief organisations and priests organise various community and humanitarian services in Bhutan.