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Aiming at the target

Historically, bow and arrow played a significant role during war and hunts. Even today, archery remains the most popular sports in Bhutan. It is played during traditional, religious and secular public holidays. Following are the 10 reasons for archery’s popularity.

1. Archery is a unique tradition 

Cheering for the team mate

Archery in Bhutan is not just shooting of arrows and competition between 2 teams or 3. There will be a group of women for each team to cheer. When a member from opponent’s team shoots, they would disturb, singing humiliating songs. When a team member hits the target, a dance would follow to celebrate from team members.

2. Archery brings people together

Women dance as men play archery

Traditionally, wives of the archers would bring food and alcohol. They would watch the game till the end. Archers, their family and every people who joins to witness the game eat, drink and dance.

3. Archery is believed to bring luck

Archery is associated with many legends. It is believed that playing archery would bring luck to the community. Winning the tournament is considered auspicious.

4. Archery is the symbol of heroism

The Divine Madman with bow and arrows

Almost every men play archery as a sign of heroism. In olden days, playing archery was considered a practice for war and hunt.

5. Archery is the symbol of god

In Bhutanese legendary stories, gods and legendary figures used bows and arrows to subdue evils. Therefore, bows and arrows are found in temples and dzongs to bestow blessing.

6. Archery is the national sports of Bhutan

Following the arrow

When Bhutan became a member of the United Nations, archery was declared the national sport. Archery was always the favorite of the monarchs of Bhutan.  

7. Archery is good for health

Like other sports, archery involve so much of concentration and physical movement. Without a doubt, it has positive impact on health. It helps concentration too.

8. Traditional bow and arrows are simple to make  

Bows and arrows are made from bamboo

Traditional bow and arrow are made from locally available natural products mainly bamboo. But today, imported compound bows and arrows are popular as well.

9. Archery is played to celebrate

People play archery to celebrate success and victory. Lots of food and alcohol are served during the tournament. In 1972, Bhutan celebrated joining the UN with archery for several days.

10. Bow and arrows are talismanic

Bamboo arrows

Every house in Bhutan hangs a bow and a few arrows not for decoration but for talismanic effect. For, they are an armor of gods and warriors, they will protect people from evil forces.

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