Animism

Though Bhutan is often referred to as the last Vajrayana Buddhist country, you can still come across animistic traditions and beliefs being practiced by the people.

The form of Buddhism practiced in Bhutan has absorbed many of the features of Bonism such as nature worship and animal sacrifice.  Also worship of a host of deities, invoking and propitiating them. According to Bonism these deities were the rightful owners of different elements of nature. Each different facet of nature was associated with its own specific type of spirit. 

For example, mountain peaks were considered as the abodes of guardian deities (Yullha),  lakes were inhabited by lake deities (Tshomem), cliff deities (Tsen) resided within cliff faces, the land belonged to  subterranean deities (Lue and Sabdag), water sources were inhabited by water deities (Chu giLhamu), and dark places were haunted by the demons (due).

Every village has a local priest or a shaman to preside over the rituals. Some of the common forms of nature worship being practiced are the Cha festival in Kurtoe, the Kharphud in Mongar and Zhemgang, the BalaBongko in WangduePhodrang, the Lombas of the Haaps and the Parops, the JomoSolkha of the Brokpas, the Kharam amongst the Tshanglas and the Devi Puja amongst our southern community.

These shamanistic rituals are performed for various reasons ranging from to keep evil spirits at bay, bring in prosperity, to cure a patient or to welcome a new year. A common feature in all of these rituals is the sacrifice of animals like oxen, fish, a chickens or  goats.