Only ada rachu for women

The decision was made by dzongkhag cultural officers during their sixth annual conference  

Culture: Women across the country will now have to wear only ada rachu on all occasions, according to a circular from the home ministry.

The circular issued to all dzongkhag cultural officers on February 16 states that respective dzongdags and cultural officers should monitor and ensure that women in the dzongkhags wear the ada rachu and not patterned rachu.

Similarly, women are mandated to drape only ada rachus for uniformity and to preserve the tradition.

The circular also states that only Royal Family members can use different patterned rachus.

Ada rachu is a simple patterned rachu that women used in the past.

Dzongkhag cultural officers said that they sent the copy of the circular to all the gewogs in their dzongkhags so that the local leaders will be able to sensitise women in the villages.

Some dzongkhags have started implementing the regulation by disallowing women staff of the dzongkhags to wear different patterned rachus other than ada rachus.

This way, the cultural officers feel that the message would be conveyed.

A female staff in one of the dzongkhags said that she had to change her rachu immediately as soon as the circular was out. “I bought an ada rachu from the town as the cultural officer asked me to change my rachu,” she said.

Tsirang’s cultural officer Sangay Wangchuk said that they started to implement the circular as soon as they received it. Tsirang dzongkhag’s female officials are allowed to wear only ada rachu, which he said is strictly being monitored.

Sangay Wangchuk said a copy of the circular has been issued to all the 12 gewogs in Tsirang. “I also make a point to inform women who I see wearing other patterned rachus,” he said.

Sangay Wangchuk said he would also educate villagers when he visits the gewogs.

Dzongkhag cultural officers said that the decision to implement the regulation was decided during their sixth annual conference held a few months ago. During the conference, it was decided that as the eight lucky sign patterns was entitled only for Royal Family members, women should wear only ada rachu.

Wangduephodrang’s cultural officer Shacha Gyeltshen said the dzongkhag is planning to implement the requirement of ada rachus from the dzongkhag first.

“We’ve already sent a copy of the circular to all the gewogs in Wangdue,” he said.

Chukha’s dzongkhag cultural officer Ugyen Chada said all gewogs including women representatives were informed of the new regulation.

Ugyen Chada said that in the past, common women wore ada rachus while only Royal Family members wore different patterned rachus that were more elegant.

Today many women can afford different patterned rachus, he said. “The cheaper versions are easily available from India,” he said. “Many women prefer different patterned rachus as they are not aware of the type of rachu they are entitled.”

Kinga Dema

8 replies
  1. Jaq Poussot
    Jaq Poussot says:

    In response to the Ministry of Home’s new change in rules for “official rachu” I am taking donations of old/patterned rachus for a dedication to a “Preservation of Culture” art piece which will be featured before my departure in June.

    Please send donated rachus, by June 1st, to:

    Ms. Jaq Poussot
    Institute of language and Culture Studies
    P.O. Box 554
    Taktse, Trongsa, Bhutan

    Or message me on Facebook for alternative delivery.

    The request of your help in spreading the word is greatly appreciated!

    In Grace & Gratitude

  2. Samchaar
    Samchaar says:

    It will be good to read about public reaction, especially those affected – women. The article, though a long one, only talks about the introduction of the new rule and the reason for it. As the national newspaper, which is widely read by everyone including the policy makers, it is good to provide them the public’s feedback or the general pulse of the nation.

    Another suggestion is not just report on what he or she said, but a more analytical piece about the rule, it’s implication in general and may even an investigation into the tradition of using the rachu. Can the Dzongkhag cultural officers show us any written evidence in history/or a piece of law that specifically states that women cannot wear any other rachu than the Ada Rachu? Just because a bunch of people in a conference wants to change the rules is not a good enough justification.

    I sincerely hope that this draconian policy/circular is repealed at the earliest.

  3. Rinchen Pelzom
    Rinchen Pelzom says:

    What is happening in our country? Why does ada rachu coming into focus now only? What are we going to do with all the beautiful patterned rachu that we have in our possession? Here it is stated that to preserve cultural uniformity, women are to wear ada rachu, how does it make uniformity? Because not all the women across country will weave it in same color and it is not preserving culture but degrading it. How can we enhance our cultural value if we keep on coming up with such limitation on the rights of people? That’s why I think before enforcing such laws, the government should think that our country bhutan is a democratic country, in other words it is people’s government.

  4. Development practitioner
    Development practitioner says:

    While I leave to the ladies to determine whether or not the decision infringes on their personal liberty (and also to ask the government what to do with the piles of expensive patterned rachus in their closets), my more plain question is how does the decision uphold the provisions under Clauses 2, 3 and 4 of Article 4 of the Constitution? If it does not, this only shows how tyrant the petty bureaucrats all over have become because of lack of accountabilities. Lack of accountability is the first sign of a dysfunctional system!

  5. mayflower
    mayflower says:

    What kind of culture did we have before? Seriously, who got down to a meeting and talked about banning the amount of patterns on a strip of cloth. But what I really want to know is, what happened to women empowerment that we all seem proud to talk about?
    “Many women prefer different patterned rachus as they are not aware of the type of rachu they are entitled.” I would really love to have another article written about what women in Bhutan are ‘entitled’ to. Shouldn’t the government be glad to know that such beautiful materials can be bought by the citizens of Bhutan -before, it was a matter of whether you could afford it or not, but now they can. This may be a ‘small rule, easy to implement’ but please remember that women make up more than half of the population of Bhutan and putting a handcuff on half the population will cause resentment. This is absurd. Bhutanese culture is in its intricate patterns, it is the identity worn proudly over the shoulders of Bhutanese women, and to deprive patriotic women of such ‘entitlement’, why do you do this? Were there any women who were in the meeting when this was discussed over??

  6. Tshering Wangzom
    Tshering Wangzom says:

    “wear only ada rachu on all occasions”. What does this mean on all occasions? How does wearing the same kind of rachu and uniformity promote culture. When was it ever that woman wore the same kind of rachu to anything. Just like Kira all woman should be given the choice to wear the kind of rachu they want. Is that not democracy, having a say. I am all up for promoting culture and preserving it. But this just does not feel right. This decision needs better explanations.

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