Etiquette: The department of culture’s driglam namzha (traditional code of etiquette) division is currently drafting a new chadi (preparation) protocol.  It is expected to be complete and ready for implementation by the end of this year.

Although details were not available, head of the division, Jigme Yoezer, said that it contained details on all types of chadi for all kinds of visitors.

“We’re currently translating the new protocol into English,” he said, adding that the details were compiled into an about 50-page booklet.

He added the chadi protocol that was currently being followed had details only for visits of members of the royal family, prime minister, cabinet ministers, speaker, chairperson of the National Council, chief justice and members of parliament (MP). “It was revised because there was a need for uniformity in preparation.”

Revising chadi protocol was one of the austerity measures the government took in August 2013 to avoid “unnecessary and excessive spending.”

The home minister, Damcho Dorji, at the recent meet-the-press session, said that drastic changes had been made in the revised protocol.  Lyonpo said the revised protocol preserved and promoted Bhutan’s culture but reduced “unnecessary expenditure.”

Following the revision of the chadi protocol, the home ministry informed dzongdags, lam netens and drangpons to strictly adhere to the revised protocol.

According to the seven-page revised protocol, there are four types of visits: ceremonial, working, transit and first visit of MPs to their respective dzongkhags.

The protocol says officials of the dzongkhag administration, thromde and other relevant agencies will receive members of the royal family at the dzongkhag boundary, followed by phebsu with suja, dresi and lunch.

While dzongkhag administration will arrange food and lodge, cost will be borne by the finance ministry.  Physical preparation will be done similar to that done during tshechus.

The prime minister will be received at the guesthouse during a ceremonial visit.  Two gates and flags at the ceremonial ground and the guesthouse will be made.

Number of flags and gates will be limited to one for the speaker, chairperson of the National Council, cabinet ministers and the opposition leader’s ceremonial visits.

Drangpons will be involved in receiving and seeing off during chief justice’s ceremonial visits.

The protocol, however, does not mention food items to be served and entertainment (dancers).

Respective offices are to bear the costs of working visits for the prime minister, the speakers, chairperson of national council, cabinet ministers, opposition leader and chief justice.

During a transit visit of all officials, dzongdags, thrompons, and police personnel will receive at the guesthouse and see off from the guesthouse.

During the first visit of MPs to their respective dzongkhags, dzongkhag and gewog offices will be notified a week in advance.  Cost of food and lodging will be taken care by the MPs themselves.

“We’ve made it very simple,” lyonpo Damcho Dorji said. “Dzongdags have strict directives to refrain from joining the guests half way with his officials to receive or see off guests.”

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay also said that, with the revised protocol, there have been instances where they don’t even meet dzongdags at the reception.

“We’ve done  away with many chadi activities to the extent that many people have accused us of diluting our culture,” lyonchoen said. “Our focus has been on service. We’re here to serve. Unless it’s a national event or event of significance, where we got to ensure culture and tradition is respected, chadi will be simple.”

Cultural officers in some dzongkhags were not aware that the protocol was revised.

However, a few dzongkhags still continue to follow the previous protocol.

For instance, early last week Bumthang dzongkhag officials received the newly appointed dzongdag from Chumey, about 15-20km before Bumthang to escort him until his residence at Wangduechholing.  For Gasa dzongkhag, reception of the new dzondag at the dzongkhag administration involved a basic chadi of suwa-seldrang and phebja.

Some international events jointly organised with the dzongkhag administration also includes grand preparations.  For instance, the International Women’s Day in March held in Wangdue took at least a week to prepare, dzongkhag officials said.

Meanwhile, local leaders in Tsirang said they were still not clear about the revised chadi protocol.  They are of the view that, without any clear directives, they cannot discontinue preparing for visitors abruptly.

“Visitors expect us to prepare for their visit and, if we don’t, we’re seen as unwelcoming,” a gup in Tsirang said.

Nirmala Pokhrel

Additional reporting by  Dawa Gyelmo and  Yeshey Dema