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All Around This World South and Central Asia (Bhutan)
Bhutan is a landlocked, consciously isolated country high in the Himalayas that tries very hard to stay exactly as it is. For a country that officially values its' economy's gross national product less than its citizens' Gross National Happiness...can you blame it?    

Of course, there are many sides to Bhutan's story. Bhutan is on its fifth King but only its first democratically elected government. Mahayana Buddhism is the official religion and sets the tone of daily life -- the "Drigham Namzha," the official behavior and dress code is very much in tune with Buddhist traditions -- but 30% of Bhutan's population, including the primarily Hindu Lhotshampas, practice "minority religions." The ethnic situation Bhutan is complex -- a hundred thousand Lhotshampas currently live in refugee camps and accuse the government of human rights abuses. So the real Bhutan may not be Shangri-La. But don't you still want to go

This week in class we sing:

We sing "We Are Happy," a greeting song from Uganda, to open every All Around This World class. This week we say hi in Dzongha, the primary language of Bhutan -- "Yala!"

While singing "Walhav Re Nakhwa" picture yourself on a fishing boat coasting blissfully  on the Indian Ocean beneath the bluest sky... (More.)

"Chukke Hakki" is an Indian song about reaching up high high high and catching the stars. (More.)

The original version of "Dudurai" tells the story of a Russian girl, Maria, who loves a Kazakh boy, Dudur, despite her family's objections based on the longstanding conflict between Russians and Kazakhs. (More.)


In class we experience the Bhutanese holiday called Blessed Rainy Day, which celebrates the beginning of monsoon season in Bhutan.  On Blessed Rainy Day -- as depicted in these images by a twelve year old Bhutanese boy -- Bhutanese bathe outside, eat Thukpa soup, play Khuru (darts), drink suja (buttered tea) and eat desi (sweetened rice), wear a gho, shoot arrows and dance around a bonfire.