As study abroad students here in Bhutan, we are here to learn as much as we can about sustainability. The Bhutanese people truly take the idea of sustainability to heart. Every time we interact with a guest speaker or regular citizen, we get a deeper idea of how innate the sense of care and compassion is here. This is deeply embedded within the culture here in Bhutan.
In every culture worldwide, games and sports are an avenue to connect with people and forge stronger social bonds. We have made some great friends here in Bhutan, and we have had the opportunity to bond and socialize through games and sports.
Archery, the national sport, is more than a game to the Bhutanese. During the competition, singing, dancing, and gentle gamesmanship are interwoven between the firing of the arrows. Before a recent dinner, we were lucky enough to witness a display of an ancient traditional song and dance. The athletes, as well as the spectators, all participated in this ritual. The game is merely one aspect of the overall community bonding that takes place during events like this.
Khuru is another traditional Bhutanese sport. It is essentially darts played outdoors, but with a much larger dart and a target that is very far away. We launched the darts at the board from what seemed like an incredibly long distance. However, we were quickly informed that the traditional game is played at a much longer distance, and with a much smaller target. (They had tried to make it a bit easier for us!) It was similar to archery in this respect. The Bhutanese fire their arrows from a distance of distance of about 145 meters, compared to the 50 meter distance seen in the Olympics and most other competitions. It again shows that friendship and community are the reason people play these games, rather than competition and competitiveness.
Carrom was another game we enjoyed very much. This traditional game is played indoors on a crafted wooden tabletop, as a dexterity game. Everyone can gather around to participate or just watch and cheer.
We shared many laughs over this game after dinner with our Bhutanese friends. We were even invited to join a four on four basketball game after we wandered into the gym on our way home one night.
We have all truly felt welcomed here, and games and sports was an integral part of that.