That some of our age-old local festivals are no longer performed and many are at risk of being forgotten should worry us all. We cannot just let such important festivals fade away.

Findings of the National Council’s social and cultural affairs committee must receive attention from all authorities concerned. We must find ways and means to preserve and promote our cultural heritage.

Promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage received clear guidance from our Fourth Druk Gyalpo in 1985: “If we are to remain sovereign for all times to come, it is important for us to serve our country with loyalty and dedication. Our government and public should think as one and protect our identity, culture and etiquette.”

Difficulty in finding dancers and masked dancers are cited as reasons for the discontinuation of local festivals in Lhuntse, Zhemgang, Trongsa and Trashiyangtse. The government has been addressing the issue by granting leave to the employees (dancers) of the locality working in government and corporations during the respective festivals. The RCSC has retained traditional posts like bangadungmi, tintidungmi, jaliphumi, etc. in the Dzongkhags. It appears a more aggressive measure and policy interventions are required.

Perhaps the answer lies in a more rural-focused integrated development to community vitality, which is one of the nine domains of the Gross National Happiness. This means addressing the prevailing rural issues like shortage of water (drinking and irrigation), gungtong, fallowing of land and increasing human-wildlife conflicts, among others. These are the telling signs of changing cultural landscape calling our attention.

The roots of our culture and tradition lie in our rural communities. How do we keep them alive?

His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo in 2009 urged policymakers and the people to keep in mind “that our culture, traditions and heritage are the foundations of our Nation.”

We have a clear vision and guidance. It is our sacred responsibility to protect our identity. Our unique culture and tradition make us Bhutanese.