The religious needs of the lay population do not find satisfaction in the striving for enlightenment alone. Under difficult environmental conditions they have to work hard to earn their livelihood. For this they need the help of divine powers.
The Bhutanese live in the immediate vicinity of their deities. Each phenomenon of nature - such as mountains, rivers, lakes and every piece of arable land - is ascribed to a certain supernatural being. The world belongs to all of them.
Some gods grant fertility, others hold evil demons in check or provide strength in war. »I cannot ask Buddha for help in war or ask for the fertility of the yaks, for this I must turn to my own protective deity«, so explains a Bhutanese farmer his relationship with the gods.
Many of these deities can be traced back to pre-Buddhist times and were integrated into Buddhism. The most important protective deities embody themselves in sacred mountains. They protect the people which were born within their sphere of influence and live in their region. In return they expect regular worship and sacrificial offerings.
However, the mountain also demands a harmonious relationship between the people of his region. If even one individual breaks a social norm, the mountain can revoke his protection from the entire group. Thus, there is a stong pressure upon the individual to act within the social norms.
The sacred places must be kept pure. Thus, if the peace of the gods is disturbed or if their places are defiled, they may take revenge on man.