The decision will be implemented from December 17 this year

The Zhemgang dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) has resolved that starting December 17 this year, everyone in the dzongkhag should wear the national dress from 9AM to 5PM in both town and villages.

Chairperson of the DT, who is also the Goshing gup, Sangay Letho, said that the decision is taken according to the Local Government (LG) Act and the book on etiquettes to protect and preserve national identity, culture and tradition.

The Gup said that the proposed penalty for those who do not comply with the rule is Nu 100 with a warning in the first instance, Nu 300 the second time and Nu 500 for the third time. The penalty, he said, is however subject to change following discussions with the people.

Shingkhar gup Ngedup said that wearing national dress is important to preserve the country’s culture and tradition, to create uniformity, and to protect the county’s independence and security in the face of a changing world.

He said that in olden days, people used to wear gho and kira at work but today people come in trousers even to banks, which degrade the country’s culture and tradition.

Bjoka gup Tshering Wangchuk said that people should not be hesitant to wear the national dress. “The initiative is a pilot project and we do not yet know how it will go.”

Bjoka gewog has already started implementing the resolution a month ago. Gup Tshering Wangchuk said that with a small population of about 170 households with 1,700 people, it is easier for the gewog to implement and create awareness.  “However, when we wear gho and kira and the people in towns do not, our villagers question as to why they have to wear the national dress.”

Tshering Wangchuk said that in towns, where diverse people gather, there might be difficulties in making people understand and comply with the resolution.

He said that informing people from other dzongkhags of the resolution would also be a challenge. “They do not always wear gho and kira, but we will inform and make them aware as well. We want other people coming to the dzongkhag to also wear our national dress.”

Sangay Letho said that police would implement and monitor the rule while sector heads would also look to implement in their areas. “I do not think we will have to impose fine even once if we make the people aware and understand its importance,” he said.

He said that this kind of initiative had not worked in the past mostly because the rules were directly imposed, without any awareness as to why and how. “People will listen to their respective heads such as department heads, school principals, and gups in gewogs but not to those they do not know,” he said.  “Implementation will happen naturally if departmental and sector heads have respect and will to uphold the national identity and carry out their responsibilities.”

He said that a group from the LG and dzongkhag administration would soon go around to create awareness, consult and collect feedback from the people. The group would consult and discuss with the people their views on the resolution, identify days of the week to include in the rule, and decide the amount of fine to be imposed.

Ngedup said that the country’s law mandates preservation of culture and tradition, which is also the responsibility of local government. The matter would be discussed again in the upcoming session of the DT.

Meanwhile, a 37-year-old farmer from Gongphu village, Rinchen, said it would be difficult for farmers to work in the farms in gho and kira. “I have not heard of the new rule but I will raise the issue when local leaders come with the news.”

Another resident, Ngawang Choden, a 36-year-old mother of three also said that it would be uncomfortable to work in kira in hot weather. A farmer from Pantang village said that local leaders should have discussed the matter with the people before deciding. “Imposing fine would be a harsh punishment for farmers.”

Karma Cheki