Bhutan does not compare its general state of well-being like other nations do by using indices such as GDP or mean middle-class income. Instead, it has a “Gross National Happiness” index which measures, you guessed it, the state of happiness of its approximate three quarters of a million citizens. OK. That’s unusual, but hey, these folks are high (in altitude… you know, the Himalayas) and live in a rarefied atmosphere. But you knew that.
Another reason why they could be happier than most of us may be reflected by the fact that they display the male organ in an excited mode all over the place. This tradition goes back to the time when a Tibetan monk, Drukpa Kunley, emigrated from Tibet in the 16th century. Known as the “Mad Saint” or “Divine Madman”, he professed that he drove away evil demons, or better still “converted” them, using, you guessed it, his erect penis. Inasmuch as this sounds slightly crazy and exaggerated, a trip to this lovely Himalayan kingdom will bring you face-to-face with hundreds of paintings and depictions of this most unusual symbol. It is said that homes are protected from evil spirits if they display the phallus either as a painting on their outside wall or hung as wooden sculptures on the four corners of their roofs.
Women wanting children and wishing to put all chances on their side flock to the Chimi LhakhangMonastery where they are gently hit on the head by what is claimed to be the original wooden symbol of phallus that Kunley brought from Tibet. Furthermore, shops sell numerous sculpted versions of this symbol. A recent book by Karma Choden, Phallus: Crazy Wisdom From Bhutan beautifully and charmingly illustrates the various forms of this art.
"Home to the happiest people in Asia, Bhutan must be the next country you visit."
Bhutan is a country which should be on everyone’s wish list. You will see no backpackers here as you are obligated to spend a minimum amount of dollars per day during your pre-arranged trip. The amount will be pre-paid and covers all travel (with driver and guide) in Bhutan, accommodation and meals. The daily amount per person ranges between 230 US$ and 280 US$ depending on season. A 10-day trip will cost approximately 5000 US$ for two people, well-worth the expense.
A superbly beautiful Himalayan country where selling or importing tobacco products is illegal, a country which displays phallic symbols all over the place and is home to the happiest people in Asia, Bhutan must be the next country you visit. After all, many other Asian countries worship phalluses (or is it phalli?): the Lingam in Hinduism; some Shinto rites in Japan; the god Min in Egypt, to name but a few. However, Bhutan’s attachment to their symbols seems to win out over all the others. And that’s perhaps why they are the happiest!