Bhutan is the only kingdom in the world with Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion. Almost two thirds of Bhutanese believe in the Buddhism and is practiced throughout the country. When any of the Buddhist festival approaches, the whole country immerge in the grand celebrating atmosphere.
It is believed that ‘Buddhism’ was first introduced in Bhutan in the 7th century when the then king built two Buddhist temples in central Bhutan and in Paro valley. Since then, hundreds of Buddhist monasteries, and convents have been established in the country. Such monasteries are common throughout the country and have been so for centuries. Later, the government of Bhutan made Buddhism as its official religion. As a state religion, Buddhism is supported financially by government of Bhutan through annual subsidies that extend to Buddhist monasteries, monks, shrines and nuns as well.
Besides Buddhism, there are many more religion throughout the whole country. Hinduism, closely related to Buddhism is the country’s second religion practiced by about 25 percent of the population. It is also supported by the kind who has declared some major Hindu festivals as national holidays. Similarly, Christianity and Islam is also present in the country but in very small numbers. Only about 1 percent of the population of Bhutan are Muslim and Christian. In addition, many people also follow the traditional animistic tradition of Bon which was once the main religion in the Himalayan area prior to the introduction of Buddhism. Most importantly, Bhutanese live in harmony with each other regardless of their religious preferences.
However, Buddhism, the official state religion, continues to play a fundamental role in the sociological, and cultural development of Bhutan and its people. The people of Bhutan are very protective regarding their religion and does not allow any foreign interference in their religious belief, tradition and customs.