Tshewang Choden

Modified ghos have entered the market. Although at the heart of the style is convenience, some say the trend is good. Others disagree. Tailors say such innovations are a threat to the survival of the Bhutanese culture.

Of the two new types of modified ghos—one comes with velcro at the back and other with hooks. The former requires a belt, the latter doesn’t. The third type can be worn separately like a skirt and a jacket.

Nima, who has been in the tailoring business for 20 years, said that these trends were worrisome. “Our national dress is given to us by our forefathers and any modification to its ancient style is an act of disrespect,” he said. “Most offices don’t allow employees to wear the modified ghos because they too feel it is improper to do so.”

Similarly, Ugyen Rinzin, a tailor in the city, said that modified ghos were a sign of culture deteriorating.

“A few years down the line, people will stop the production of the kera (belt) altogether. That’s how we are losing our ancient tradition,” he said.

Tailors are calling for an intervention by responsible authorities. They said stringent laws were needed to preserve culture.

One of the tailors said; “If we stop stitching these ghos the demand for it would gradually decrease.”

Demand for modified ghos is said to be growing slowly.

Tailors said that they made modified ghos because they survive on orders from customers.

“A beggar has no choice. I can’t send them away because I have to pay the monthly rent, feed my children and run my household,” says Ugyen.

There are tailoring shops in the city that solely deals with stitching gho and kira with hooks and velcros. They earn their livelihood from this business.

“We are simply altering small parts depending on the convenience of the customers. The end product looks exactly like the traditional gho,” said another tailor.

Chimi Dorji, a college student, said that evolution of culture was natural. “Unless culture evolves, it will cease to exist.”