Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan are three lands that are often mistaken for each other, mainly because of their close proximity. While Tibet shares borders with both of these countries, Nepal and Bhutan are only separated by the Indian state of Sikkim. All three of these lands have been largely isolated from the outside world for centuries because of their unique locations carved out of the mystic mountains. And although each of these lands is very distinct in terms of its identity and history, they do have some similarities in terms of culture, beliefs, and way of life. Here we have listed few of these similarities.
90% of Tibetans and 75% of Bhutanese people follow Buddhism. Every aspect of life in these regions is heavily influenced by Buddhism. On the other hand, only roughly 10% of Nepalese are Buddhists. But given the fact that Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha and Buddhism, the rest of the Hindu population too are just as devoted to Buddha and his teachings. For instance, there are more than 1,500 Buddhist temples, with some dating back two thousand years ago. So, it is safe to say that the strongest similarity between these three regions is their undivided devotion and belief in Buddhism.
It is no surprise that most festivals in Tibet and Bhutan are centered around Buddhism. For instance, Tibet’s Sagar Dawa festival and Ongkor Festival; and Bhutan’s ThimpuTshechu and Paro Tshechu. The Buddhists residing in Nepal also have their own unique festivals like Tiji of the Thakali people and Sonam Lhosar of Tamang people. But all three of these regions do celebrate some common Buddhist festivals like the day of Buddha’s birth, the day of his enlightenment, and Chinese New Year to name a few.
Music and Dance
An outsider will have a hard time trying to distinguish the Buddhist dance and music forms between these three regions. Especially, the dances of all these regions are characterized by colorful and elaborate costumes; intricately carved masks, and vibrant wigs. Moreover, the instruments played, intricate movements of arms and hands, and the delicate footwork also show some similarities. Another similarity, although the scripts and the religious beliefs may differ, is that, the dances revolve around the subjects of harvest, marriage rites, love stories, and so on.
Like most Asian countries, these regions also place high value on importance of the family. Customs are centered around the family unit, which naturally takes precedence over the individual. The elderly are well respected, and traditional households are mostly large, often including the extended families of uncles and aunts. Although, the marriage rituals are different in each region, all three of them are patriarchal in terms of society, where males mostly take on the responsibilities of financing the family and women tend households.
Common taboos and etiquettes
There are also quite a few numbers of common taboos and etiquettes that are widespread in all three regions. For instance, public display of affection between men and women is still frowned upon. Similarly, clothing is conservative. Men do not go bare-chested and shorts are considered conservative. On the other hand, women often are fully clothed.