Everywhere in the country, you’ll find Bhutan’s mythology expressed in many different ways. Most striking is the name its inhabitants have for the kingdom: Druk Yul, literally meaning ‘land of the thunder dragon’ in Bhutanese mythology. You find the fierce white dragon in the national flag and weapon and during the Tsechus - Bhutan’s most important festivals – there are many expressions of and references to the dragon. Even Bhutan’s leaders are known as the Druk Gyalpo: the dragon kings.
Every part of Bhutan’s national flag is symbolic for the country’s general features. Divided diagonally, the flag has a white dragon across the middle. The white colour is not only an expression of purity and loyalty, it also represents the diverse ethnic and linguistic groups. The dragon’s growling mouth, which is an expression of the strenth of many deities, protects the jewels which are hold in his paws. These jewels represent prosperity, wealth and perfection. The upper yellow part of the flag represents the king’s secular power and fruitful action in both religious and state affairs. The lower orange part represents the spiritual power and religious practise of Bhutan’s Mahayana (tantric) Buddhist religion.
Bhutan also holds a national emblem. A double diamond thunderbolt (dorji) placed above a lotus, is framed by two dragons and overcome by a jewel. The harmony between religious and secular power is symbolized by the double diamond thunderbolt. The lotus symbolises purity, and sovereign power is expressed by the jewel. Finally, the male and female dragons represent Bhutan’s name, being proclaimed with their great voice of thunder (Druk Yul). The national emblem is contained in a circle.
On december 17th National Day is celebrated. It is reminiscent of the ascension to the throne of Bhutan’s first king, Ugyen Wangchuck in 1907.
The blue poppy, found in the high altitudes above 13.000 feet, is Bhutan’s national flower, while the cypres is the country’s national tree, often associated with religious places. The National bird is the raven, representing Gonpo Jarodonchen (Mahakala), one of Bhutan’s main guardian deities. The raven adorns the royal crown.
The takin, an extremely rare mixture of sheeps and goats, is the kingdom’s national animal. Since its favorite food is bamboo, growing high in the Himalayas, it will not surprise that the takin herds are found in the very high altitudes (13.000 ft and over).