Specificities of Monasteries and Temples in Bumthang

Monasteries (gonpa) are made up of several buildings, including monks’ quarters, study rooms, meditation retreats, kitchen and one or more temples. The monks or nuns living in a monastery are celibate and besides performing rituals, they study religious texts, arts, music and religious dances, following a strict schedule.

A temple (lhakhang) is a place of worship dedicated to one or several deities and can be standing by itself or be part of a monastic complex. In Bumthang, temples often belong to the village community or are private. It means they belong to a family of religious practitioners who are not celibate, and the temple is handed over from father to son, or uncle to nephew.

Most of the monasteries and temples in Bumthang have religious dances which are performed once a year, at dates which vary in the western calendar according to the Bhutanese lunar calendar.

In Bumthang, the sponsorship of monasteries and temples is complex: some are looked after by the State, some are private, some depend on communities and other donations.

It is usual to leave a small alm on the altar when visiting temples as this goes towards the upkeep of the temple. Also one should take off shoes and remove hats/caps/scarfs when visiting temples. Lastly photography inside religious buildings is not permitted.

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)