Culture: If the women in Khoma, Lhuentse are known for weaving kishuthara, women in Chumey, Bumthang are known for weaving yathra. Women here keep weaving yathra throughout the year, as it is their main source of cash income.

Women in Chumey, especially those living in Chungphel, Zhurey, Kertsho, Bhim, Terzoe and Yeerangbi depend on weaving yathra.

Women here begin training to weave yathra by the age of eight.

Settlements in these villages are mostly clustered. Women come to weave together in a shed. The four women usually weave facing each other.

While they weave, they converse, at times stopping momentarily to concentrate on a juicy topic. Sometimes they sing together or listen to radio programmes.

Sonam Lhamo, 28, from Chungphel started weaving yathra at the age of eight. She weaves yathra throughout the year and her income helps her to take care of her entire family.

She said women weave in groups outside their houses to keep themselves away from getting bored. Talking to each other and singing keeps boredom away, she said. School going girls still learn how to weave yathra during their breaks.

Sonam weaves seven yathra coats in a month and earns Nu 7,000. She said that while it doesn’t fetch her good profit it still helps her make ends meet. “We have to buy yarns from the shops and the profit margin is minimal,” she said.

People here don’t do agricultural works unlike elsewhere in the country. Their farmlands lie fallow except for some wheat.

Choni Lhamo, 35 from Chungphel said they also weave Dewan Kheb, Dhen Khebs (mats), sofa covers, mufflers and bags besides yathra today.

Kinga Tshomo, 56 from Zhurey village said she weaves yathra products along with her two daughters at home. She has a handloom set outside her house in a bamboo shed.

She sometimes weaves woollen products when her sheep produce enough wool. Otherwise, she buys imported yarns for yathra. “Woollen products consume a lot of time but it also fetches us better income,” she said.

She sells a woollen bed cover for Nu 2,000.

She said her parents used to cultivate a variety of crops in the past but today only some wheat is cultivated, which is essential for making wheat flour and brewing Ara.

Thinley Dema, 19 from Bhim said the Ura-Nangar bypass road has eased their lives. They need not take their finished yathra products to shops in Zungey, which is some 10km from Nangar.

Villagers sell their products along the bypass road and they also buy yarns from these shops today. They also buy their rations from here.

Nima Wangdi | Chungphel