Merak is a settlement in the far east of Bhutan under Sakteng sub-district and Trashigang district and also shares its border in east with Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Blessed with nature’s bounty, this amazingly beautiful valley is inhabited by semi-nomadic people known as Brokpas. Before migrating to Bhutan centuries agao, the Brokpa nomadic community were living at Yamarong village in Tibet. Situated at an altitude of 3,000m, the valley remains secluded from outside world, jealously guarding its unique culture, customs and traditions.
Living close to nature in this pristine wilderness, the Brokpas lifestyle has remain virtually unchanged over centuries and they still depend almost entirely on yak rearing and animal husbandry for their livelihoods. Bartering is still prevalent in Brokpa community, and they barter their yak products for food grains and other daily necessities.
Brokpas have diligently maintained their unique traditions, customs and way of life. The Brokpas community continue to practice polyandry - a practical arrangement that has served the family's purpose of farming and cattle herding well. They wear a different costume and both men and women wear a black hat with five fringes, woven from yak hair. Mean wear a red woollen jacket tightened around waist with a belt. They also wear a vest made of deer skin or yak calf hides with the fur. Underneath they wear knee length shorts locally known as Kangoo usually cream or white in colour. Women keep long hair tied up in traditional plaits. They wear pink and white striped raw silk dress on top covering till waist length and red striped similar to skirt with some animal and flower patterns woven on it. Women also wear additional black woollen shawl during winter to keep themselves warm.
The Merak Tshechu is annual three-day event at the Merak Lhakhang, and the festival provides Brokpas the much-needed respite from their routing life of cattle herding etc. Besides various dances performed throughout dzongs, monasteries and temples in the country during festival, the special attraction at Merak Festival is ‘Achey Lhamo’ or Yeti Dance and Yak Dance. Brokpas by nature are fun loving, love music ,dances and festival is an important occasion to celebrate their unique and rich culture.