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The Happy Nation

I visited Bhutan in May 2010. We landed in the city of Paro (at a tiny airport nestled among the steep Himalayas and considered one of the most dangerous airports!). The beautiful landscape overwhelmed me.

Next we travelled to Punakha city. Punakha Dzong (fortress) was the seat of the government till 1955. It’s name means “The Palace of Bliss”. It is the second largest and second oldest dzong in Bhutan and is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley. It is known for its beautiful Bhutanese architecture. As we strolled in the palace, I took in the majestic white washed walls, three courtyards, the brass roof gifted by the seventh Dalai Lama. The inside had vibrant paintings, relics and ornate columns. As I stepped outside, there stood a row of gorgeous lilac jacaranda trees in full bloom. Of course, I had to take pictures. I started working on my painting after studying my photos.

This is one my mom’s favorite paintings. The jacaranda flowers add such a splash of color, on the backdrop of the majestic and quite unforgettable Punakha Dzong. And they are purple, the color of royalty. It is a perfect match J

As we travelled in Bhutan we saw rich Buddhist collection. There are eight auspicious Buddhism symbols. One of them is “mandala” derived from Sanskrit and means a circular object. It is represented by multiple squares and circles nested together to create a geometric and balanced structure. The intertwining of lines in the eternal knot is said to symbolize how everything is connected. It can also represent how religion and secular affairs, as well as compassion and wisdom are united and connected to each other

Take a look at the mandala that I have created using mosaic pieces. It took me some time to cut these rectangle and curved pieces and mount them, all the while keeping it symmetrical. I completed the frame with a serene model of the Buddha.

Mandalas are used as a visual aid and focal point during meditation. They represent wholeness and harmony with the universe. And who doesn’t need more of those!?

Bhutan has continually been ranked as the happiest country in all of Asia, and the eighth Happiest Country in the world according to Business Week. In 1972, Bhutan declared “Gross Happiness Index” is more important than “Gross Domestic Product”. The big idea from a tiny state that could change the world! WOW! Bhutan championed a new approach to development which measures prosperity through the principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

What attributes to its Gross Happiness Index? Low carbon impact (it is among one of just a handful of so-called carbon negative countries in the world), low levels of corruption, free education, relatively recent introduction of the internet and a good balance of globalization and tradition, maintaining their environmental and cultural identity.

Bhutan is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world! Tree planting is popular in the country, where they are a symbol of long life, beauty and compassion: in 2015, Bhutan set a Guinness World Record by planting almost 50,000 trees in just one hour.

My travels…giving me inspiration for my art…

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©2018 by Vaiju Saraf.