Natively the kingdom has been known as Drukyul (Land of the Thunder Dragon) and the people called themselves Drukpas. When a Buddhist lama Tsangpa Gyare Yeshey Dorji (1161-1211) was consecrating a new monastery in Central Tibet at the end of twelfth century, he heard thunder, which popular belief holds to be the voice of dragon (druk). He therefore decided to name the monastery Druk, and the religious school he founded was likewise called Drukpa. Later, when the Drukpas unified Bhutan, they gave it their name, which is today comprised of three main ethnic groups viz. ngalongs, sharchops, and lhotshampas.
It is no surprise that the main goal of life for Drukpas is happiness. Even the mandate of modern Bhutanese state is Gross National Happiness - this means that economic development, a goal for much of humanity, is only a means to the real goal of happiness. The concept has now gained international attention and become a global agenda. The United Nations has also adopted ‘happiness’ as one of the Millennium Development Goals and declared 20 March the World Happiness Day.
Bonism was the main religion practiced before the advent of the doctrines of Lord Buddha. Many historians connect the coming of Buddhism into Bhutan only with the arrival of Guru Rinpoche in 746 AD but it was already in practice in several parts of the country much earlier than believed hitherto. Buddhism reached the soil of Bhutan long before it reached Tibet. Today our state religion is Mahayana Buddhism in its tantric form determining people’s attitudes and moulding thoughts. Buddhism has played a significant influence on the values of the Bhutanese, which has shaped the institutions, organizations, art, drama, architecture, literature and social structure.
Dzongkha (the language spoken in dzongs) is the national language linguistically and writing system related to Choekey, the religious language known to the outside world as the Classical Tibetan. While Dzongkha is the national language, Bhutan has 19 distinct languages and dialects. This diversity in languages and culture is an indication of the cultural richness and heritage of the small kingdom. Archery is the national sport played practically around the year and remains an integral part of all festivities.