Guests of our Bhutan Chomlhari Trek recently enjoyed an archery lesson in the popular village of Paro. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan, and every Bhutanese village has its own archery range.
Bhutanese archery is not the simple bow-and-arrow stuff that most of us learned at summer camp, however. In Bhutan, archery is a very social affair with lots of eating, singing, dancing and general indulgence. Many archery teams also have their own singers and dancers whose sole job it is to distract the opposing team. They gather around the targets, dancing, singing and heckling—making fun of the shooter’s ability and doing everything they can to steer a hopeful arrow from its mark. When an arrow does find its target, lots of clapping and cheering ensues. Oh, and did we mention the drinking? It’s a big part of the sport.
Could archery and partying be the secret behind Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s just the fact that Bhutanese people have a rich social network and they love to celebrate life. Either way, maybe there was value in those summer camp archery lessons after all.
Our next stop is the Tiger’s Nest, then into the mountains for a night of sleeping beneath the ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ (24,035 feet).
Photo by Daniel Sundqvist