Bhutan Comes to Washington, DC
Washington Travel Blog› entry 19 of 66 › view all entries
Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon was the theme of the 2008 Smthsonian Folklife Festival. Every summer, the Smithsonian Instiution sponsors the festival on the National Mall to explore the culture and traditions of one country and one US state.
The country featured this year was Bhutan. A range of outdoor exhibits told of Bhutan's arts, beliefs, foods, music, architecture, and traditional medicine. More 100 Bhutanese came to Washington to participate in the festival and present their country's traditions. I went to the festival on Thursday afternoon to learn something of Bhutan, a country I have never visited.
Exiting the Metro at Smithsonian Station, I was greeted by a large Bhutanese temple constructed on the Mall.
The temple was a real Buddhist Temple. Monks of the Zhung Dratsang monastic body had come from Bhutan to operate it. I joined the queue to enter the temple. Inside was an altar on one side and a row of the monks on the other reciting a chant. Local followers of Buddhism were taking a moment to make offerings at the altar. At one point, the monks began to play their musical instruments, two long horns and a two drums. Except for the Washington summer temperature, one was for that moment transported to Bhutan!
Outside the temple, I looked at several of the exhibits.
At another location, a man gave a talk and demonstration of Bhutanese food. He stated that a nationwide Bhutanese cuisine has only developed within the past 50 years as road and air communication has improved contact among the different regions of the country. The typical Bhutan dish is cheese and rice with pepper. Bhutan is the only place, he said, where hot peppers are considered a vegetable rather than a spice.
I had lunch at the food tent, named the Druk Yul (Thunder Dragon) Kitchen.
Of course, I definitely enjoyed taking photos of all the displays and activity!