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A Glossary of Dzongkha Terms

Majestic mountains and deep valleys scattered with dzongs (fortresses), Buddhist chortens (shrines) and rural villages provide a wonderful playground for anyone visiting Bhutan. This enigmatic country remains largely unexplored and has a strong emphasis on low-impact tourism, meaning that it has maintained its charming cultures and traditions. While in Bhutan, you will no doubt come across one of its many colorful festivals or ‘tsechus’, which often involve masked dancing, bright costumes and folk songs. Our travel guide highlights those worth experiencing, allowing you to gain an insight into the unique customs that make this Himalayan Kingdom such a special place.

Ashi : Honorific title used by women of the Royal or aristocratic family
Avalokitesvara: Bodhisattva of compassion
Bodhisattva : Enlightened brings.
Bon : Religion with shamanistic and animist practices that predated Buddhism in the Himalayan region
Chathrim: Act, rules and regulations
Chhu: River or Water
Chitshog: Parliament
Chiwog: Group of villages.
Choesham: An altar, shrine room
Choeten: Stupa, usually containing sacred relics choetho
Thrimkiduensa: high Court
Dasho: A title given by His Majesty the King to people who have been recognized for their services to the country
Desi or Deb: Title given to temporal ruler of Bhutan from 1851-1905
Dochok Gothrip: Title given to the Leader of Opposition.
Drangpon: Judge
Dratshang: Central Monastic Body
Driglam Namzha: Age old etiquette and code of conduct
Dromchoe: Annual religious festival held at Punakha and Thimphu Dzongs dedicated to the protecting Deities of Bhutan
Druk: Thunder Dragon
Druk Gyalpo: Formal title for reference to His Majesty the King of Bhutan literally meaning the King of Bhutan.
Druk Yul: Dzongkha name for Bhutan. It means ”Land of the Thunder Dragon” or ”Land of the Drukpas”
Drukpa Kagyu: The sect of Buddhism that is the official state religion of Bhutan
Duar: Indian word meaning doorway or gate, which refers to the traditional entrances to Bhutan from the Bengal and Assam Plains of India.
Dungkhag: Sub Division of a District.
Thrimkiduensa: Sub-Division-Court
Dungpa: Head of Sub-Divisions.
Dzong: Fortress-like structure that serves as the headquarters of a district administration and the residence of the Monk Body
Dzongda: District Administrator
Dzongkha: The national language of Bhutan (literally means language of the Dzong)
Dzongkhag: District
Thrimkiduensa: District Court
Tshogdu: District Council
Dzongkhag Yargye
Tshogchung: District Development committee
Gewog : Country, consisting of a block of villages
Gewog Tshogdu: Country Committee
Gewog Yargye
Tshogchung: Block Development Committee.
Gho: Men’s traditional attire, a long-sleeved robe, worn knee-length and fastened at the waist
Goenpa: Monastery
Gup: Head of the Gewog
Guru Teacher
Padmasambhava: The Indian saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century also known as Guru Rinpoche.
Gyalyong Tshogde: National Council
Gyalyong Tshogdu: National Assembly
Je Khenpo: Chief Abbot of Bhutan, also Head of the Monastic Body
Kabney: Ceremonial scarf worn by men
Keyra: Hand woven fabric belt to fasten a women’s kira
Khuru: Agame of darts.
Kira: Traditional ankle-length dress worn by women
Koma: Apair of silver brooches, which fastens the women’s kira at the shoulder
La: Mountain pass
Lama: Buddhist priest who is a religious master
Lhakhang: Buddhist temple
Zhungtshog: Cabinet
Lodroe Tshogde: Royal Advisory Council
Lyonchhen: Title for Prime Minister
Lyonpo: Title for a minister
Mangmi: Elected representative of the country, also the deputy Gup
Namthar: Life stories of great people or hagiography
Thrimkiduensa: Supreme Court
Penlop: Governor of a region consisting of several districts.
Rabdey: District Monastic Body.
Rinpoche: Title given to reincarnated lamas.
Lyonpo: Title given to the Chief Justice.
Chhenmo: The ‘Supereme Law’, which is a comprehensive code of categories of criminal offences and the appropriate penalties that were approved by the National Assembly in 1957 that were approved by the National Assembly in 1957
Thrizin: Title for Chairperson of the National Council
Thromde Tshogde: Municipal Committee
Thrompon: Municipal Administrator
Tshechu: Religious dance festival held in honour of Guru Padmasambhava
Tshokpoen: Title for Speaker of the National Assembly
Yenlag Thromde: Satellite town
Zhabdrung: Title given to Ngawang Namgyal and his Successive reincarnation, literally means ”he at whose feet one submits.”