Buddhism In Bhutan

The fantastically situated 21,300-foot peak of Khangbum Mountain in Bhutan rises gracefully behind Gasa Dzong, built in 1644.
Monks from Prakhar Monastery in Bhutan conduct a dress rehearsal for their annual tsechu.
Gyeltshen, 13 is the caretaker for the main temple at Kharabandi Monastery near Phuntsholing, Bhutan.
Tshering, 25, wears a silk scarf across his face as a gesture of respect while polishing a statue of Guru Padmasambhava in Gangtey Monastery, Bhutan.
Monks from Dagana Dzong, built in 1655 recite their early morning prayers from large books on handmade paper. The rigorous Bhutanese monastic schedule that has remained unchanged for generations begins at 3am when the monks first wake up.
A group of novice monks wash their crimson robes and brave a chilly dash into the Bumthang River in Northern Bhutan.
A group of nuns from Khardung Dratsang Convent near Rhadi, Bhutan break small rocks into small stones for building a retaining wall.
A monk strolls past the imposing tower-shaped Dechenphu temple known as a lhakhang. Dedicated to the war god Gyenyen, Dechenphu Lhakhang is believed to protect Bhutanese soldiers from harm and lead them to victory.
Two young monks from Zhemgang Dzong in Eastern Bhutan wait patiently for lunch to be served from the monastery kitchen. Using wood fires for cooking is common throughout Bhutan, so kitchens are often smoky.
Gomchen Wangdi, 71, is well known around Punakha, Bhutan for his boisterous and charismatic personality. As with many Bhutanese, his teeth are darkly stained from chewing betel nut.
Two nuns from Kelikha Convent in Bhutan, built near the 12,496-foot Cheli Pass study old religious text together.
The black hat dance is always performed on the opening day of the Trashigang, tsechu in Eastern Bhutan to purify the monastery courtyard for additional dances and festivities.
Two monks and a dignitary roll up the silk thongdrel banner from Dagana Dzong in Southern Bhutan during the annual tsechu. Featuring Buddha Shakyamuni in the center, thongdrels provide protection from bad rebirths to those viewing it.
Amid the loud bang of firecrackers, three men dressed as historical Pazap warriors quickly run down the stairs of Punakha Dzong in Bhutan to recreate a centuries-old battle charge.
During the Dagana Dzong tsechu, a Bhutanese monk dressed as a skeleton performs a dance called durdag to drive away spirits from the sacred Mount Sumeru, the legendary center of the Buddhist cosmos.
Three days before the Paro tsechu in Western Bhutan begins, a monk delicately places colored sand a few grains at a time to create a colorful circular design known as a mandala.
Women from the upper Bumthang valley in Bhutan perform a dance during the Jambay tsechu around a monk pretending to be dead. Dressed all in white, the monk takes on the appearance of a harmful demon that is symbolically killed with a special dagger.
Continually spinning and twisting, monks who perform the black hat dance must possess a great deal of athletic stamina to avoid becoming dizzy and also maintain group synchronization such as this performer at Wangdiphodrang Dzong in Bhutan.
Lay religious practitioners known as gomchens often bring portable shrines called tashigomos to major festivals such as the Puankha dromche in Bhutan. The shrines contain tiny statues of Buddhist deities housed in small compartments.
By mid afternoon, young novice monks from Dagana Dzong in Southern Bhutan grow tired and restless after having woken up at 3am for early morning prayers before their annual tsechu.
A group of monks from Dagana Dzong in Southern Bhutan pose for a portrait before the last dance of the annual tsechu. The monk in the center is dressed as a manifestation of Guru Padmasambhava, a Buddhist saint revered throughout Bhutan.
Leading a procession with loud trumpets, monks from Dagana Dzong in Southern Bhutan wear animal facemasks as they celebrate the arrival of Shinje Chogyal, known as the Lord of Death.
Atsara clowns pose for a portrait during the Gom Kora festival in Eastern Bhutan. Most atsara carry a wooden phallus as homage to Drukpa Kunley, a Buddhist saint known for his outrageous sexual exploits.
On the final day of the Trashigang tsechu in Eastern Bhutan, a tall statue of Guru Padmasambhava is taken outside the monastery. After ritual dances are performed, local villagers file past to receive a special blessing and thread necklace known as a sunki.
On the final day of the Mongar tsechu in Bhutan, a large silk thongdrel is displayed for a few short hours each year at sunrise. The large seated figure in the center is Guru Padmasambhava.
1 of 25