13 dancers from six gewogs on contract

Phub Dem | Paro

Paro tshechu may be one of the most popular local tshechus, but it has its own share of the problem. The dzongkhag is facing difficulty in finding dancers from the gewogs for the tshechu.

As of today, gups from six gewogs —Dotay, Shari, Tsento, Lamgong, Wangchang, and Shaba takes turns to nominate 13 dancers for the annual tshechu.

There are 10 gewogs, the rest four need not contribute because Naja and Dogar gewogs are located far from the dzongkhag.

Dogar gup Lhap Tshering said that there were problems with transportation and lodging because the dancers had to come all the way from the villages. He added that the dancers too were reluctant to participate due to long distance.

While Lungnyi gewog has to perform Woochupai Zhey, Hungrel gewog which resides near the dzong has to take care of the preparation and overlook other tshechu activities.

Addressing the problem, which officials said was becoming worse every year, the seventh dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) decided to contract out the dance programme at the tshechu to selected women from the six gewogs.

Dzongkhag culture officer, Sangay Dorji proposed a minimum of three years contract. Although rotation of dancers from the gewogs provided an equal opportunity, he said that to nominate and select the best dancers from a single gewog was difficult.

Other gups were of the view that the number of dancers was decreasing because younger girls were leaving the community to study outside and young mothers were reluctant to participate.

“Every year new dancers were trained with separate instructors. It cost huge to the dzongkhag to hire professional instructors every year,” said Sangay Dorji.

Dancer practice for 25 days, which they said was too short to get ready for the tshechu.

The culture officer said that the idea of selecting dancers from six gewogs for a certain year was to improve the quality of dance performance of the tshechu. It was also to reduce the financial burden because selected dancers do not require instructors every year.

He said six gewogs were notified for the selection of the tshechu dancers and that there was no participant from Lamgong and Tsento.

Unlike other years, Paro tshechu will have handpicked trained dancers this year, according to Wangchang gup Kuenzang Rinzin.

After a prolonged debate on the contract tenure, age criteria, and the daily wage for the dancers, the DT resolved to try the contract system for two years and kept the eligible ages between 19 and 35.

The monthly allowance for dancer and mask dancer was also increased by Nu 1,000 to Nu 2,500 as per the pay revision.

The DT also resolved to propose a rise in their monthly allowance considering its potential to create job opportunities.

Paro Tshechu marks the beginning of celebrations and tourist arrival in the country. It is considered one of the most popular celebrations in the country.

With less than a month left for the tshechu, the gups also reminded the dzongkhag that the celebration ground should be made convenient with basic facilities.

Meanwhile, Paro Dzongdag Tenzin Thinley said that there were plans to modify tshechu ground and there was also a need for disabled-friendly toilets and other infrastructure.

DT formed a committee to find out the challenges facing visitors and the participants.