Talking about promoting our culture

As the custodians of our culture, it is incumbent on us to make every effort to protect and preserve the Bhutanese culture in their many forms. As foreign cultures come stomping about, we risk losing the tangible and intangible elements that inform our culture and shape our identity.

National Council’s social and cultural affairs committee recommended that the government finalise and endorse Bhutan’s culture policy document that encompasses all aspects of cultural heritage. Twenty-four recommendations in all were made for the preservation of cultural heritage. The house of review has also asked the government to revisit the Cultural Heritage Bill and make it a comprehensive legal proposal. Such interventions are critically important as modern developments bring in myriad challenges.

We have arrived at a time in our development journey when we are compelled to look at our traditional architecture, performing arts, languages and driglam namzha, among others. When our children today do badly in speaking and writing in Dzongkha but can speak fluent Hangul or Korean, we need to look at what damage foreign influences are doing to our language and culture.

Our Constitution mandates us, every single Bhutanese, to safeguard our culture. Promotion and preservation of our cultures should mean more than constructing and renovating our dzongs, lhakhangs and other religious and historical sites. Our intangible cultures are equally important.

While the national dress is an important part of our culture, the debate among the legislative members veered off the road. We have some nature of profession where wearing gho and kira is inconvenient. Rather than going into small details like this, our focus should be on promoting and preserving our intangible cultures.

Our architecture, arts, languages and code of etiquettes define our society by giving us a special uniqueness. Losing our unique identity could have implications on sovereignty and security. Economic development must be pursued, but we cannot let our cultures and traditions recede into distant memory. Cultures from outside are bound to come in this age of globalisation, but we need to be able to promote and preserve ours.

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