Standardizing chadi etiquettes

The new chadi guidelines is likely to be in place by March next year

Culture: Ceremonial scarves in all five colours of green, white, yellow, red and blue should only be arranged over the door during occasions for His Majesty and the Je Khenpo. The Prime minister is entitled to three colours and the rest are entitled to only a white scarf.

This is one of the standards specified in the draft chadi guideline that is expected to come into effect in about three months time.

The draft was put up for discussion at the 6th national cultural conference yesterday. Cultural officers from 20 dzongkhags are attending the five days conference and are the key persons in conducting chadi.

Without a standard guideline until now, cultural officers were usually confused over how grand the preparation should be when guests or officials visited dzongkhags or while preparing for national events.

The draft guideline has specified on how chadi should be for His Majesty, members of the Royal Family, the Je Khenpo, Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament (MP), Local Government leaders and other visitors.

It contains details such as variation in heights of the seat of the chief guest for a particular occasion of importance, the thokoe (ceremonial fruits) and podium decoration.

The colour of flags hoisted from the entrance gate until the function ground will now differ for individual guests.

Cultural officers said until now they were following the driglam-namzha (traditional code of etiquette) guideline for chadi and other references distributed by the department of culture. The entitlement and luxury of chadi varied among dzongkhags.

“Visitors’ expectation and our chadi often contradicted, resulting in unnecessary misunderstanding,” one of the cultural officers, said. “This new guidelines will clear all such differences once and for all.”

Driglam-namzha division’s head, Jigme Yoezer said 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 MP. “The main objective of this guideline is to bring uniformity in preparation,” he said.

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

Lhuntse’s cultural officer Tashi Phunthso said in his decade long experience in chadi, he came across many contradictions between the civil and religious aspects. “In such circumstance, we sought help from the driglam-namzha division officials,” he said.

In terms of expenses for chadi, for instance in receiving and seeing off incoming and outgoing dzongdags, he said it solely depended on how grand each dzongkhags wished the chadi to be following traditional norms.

While the new guideline might bring uniformity in the public sector, the culture of chadi is diluting in private ceremonies.

Cultural officers raised concerns that the norms of chadi are beyond their control in the private sector.

“This practice will’ve serious threat to our culture in future and might end up bringing different cultures,” a cultural officer said. “Private individuals are equally responsible for preserving the culture.”

Cultural officers also said that while they are most of the time involved in chadi, they are unable to concentrate on other administrative works and proposed that additional human resource be given to assist cultural officers.

Home secretary Dasho Dr Sonam Tenzin directed cultural officers to ensure that all schools across the country performed cultural programme by singing themselves and not dancing to songs played through a tape recorder.

“We also need to relook at the current practice of offering khadar to foreign guests as soon as they enter hotels; that’s not in our culture,” he said.

Dasho Dr Sonam Tenzin also directed the department of culture to find out the number of lhakhangs and goenbas, that were handed over to rinpochoes, trulkus and dratshangs.

Handing over ownerships of such religious institutions, he said was sheer sign of villagers not being able to take responsibility of their belongings.

Nirmala Pokhrel

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