Bhutan, a kingdom in the foothills of the Himalayas, is well known for the richness in its culture and traditions. Embellished and adorned by a mesmerizing panoramic landscape, the country equally relishes in pride for its unique and distinct vibrant attire. In the 17th century, the unifier and pioneer of Bhutan “Ngawang Namgyal” introduced the traditional dresses and national costume to create a definite identity for the people of the nation.
The dress codes need to be strictly followed by the citizens of Bhutan while attending schools, government offices and even in festivals and important occasions. Unity and integrity were the main purposes behind imposing the rules throughout the country along with the preservation and promotion of culture. The official dress code behaviour of Bhutan, enforced as part of the norms and regulations, is known as Driglam Namzha.
Traditional Dress of Bhutanese Men
The traditional and national attire of the men in Bhutan is known as Gho. It is a knee-length robed dress wrapped around the whole body and secured with a belt named Kera. Gho has different types of striped patterns of varied colours. Kera is mainly a woven fabric belt with a multitude of colours and designs. Inside the Gho the men usually wear a long sleeve short length jacket called Toego. Gho is cloaked in such a way so as to form a pouch in the front. Traditionally the Bhutanese men were supposed to carry a small knife called Dozum in the waist and betelnuts in the pouch. But nowadays in the modern world, they generally carry their mobile phones or any important papers and notebooks. Under the Gho the men usually wear a pair of shorts. During winters they are allowed to wear jeans or thermals.
Kabney is a scarf worn by Bhutanese men in special events and festivals and marks the authoritative position or rank of an individual. All men need to follow strictly the rules laid down by the Kingdom of Bhutan while attending important occasions or meeting higher authorities. His Majesty, the King of Bhutan, wears a distinct saffron-colored scarf. The council of ministers wears orange coloured scarves. The Chief Justice of the highest judicial court in Bhutan wears a green coloured scarf. The district administrator of Bhutan wears a red colour scarf with white stripes. The National Council and National Assembly members wear blue scarves. The head of the village wears a white scarf with red stripes. The commoners wear white colour scarves. The Kabney identifies the social status and authority of the men. It should hang correctly at the proper position so that it is distinctly visible.
Bhutanese men wear a traditional show called Tsoglham. The design of the shoes is unique with distinct patterns. Nowadays in the modern world, since the men need to trek along the rough terrains in the mountains or walk long distances, they wear trekking shoes or boots for comfort.
Traditional Dress of Bhutanese Women
The traditional and national attire of the women in Bhutan is known as Kira. It is a long ankle-length dress comprising of a rectangular piece of cloth wrapped around the body. The Kira is generally made of woven fabric of cotton and silk. For regular use, the Kiras are striped ones with double-sided design and for special occassions, the Kiras have beautiful patterns into it. The expensive Kiras are made of special hand weaved cotton clothes with silk or cotton designs. It is pinned at both sides with a pair of silver coloured clips or broaches called Komas. The Komas are available in varied intricate designs. Women also tie the belts called Kera similar to their men counterparts. Above the Kira, the women wear a short colourful jacket called Toego. It imparts a stylish and elegant look to the entire dress. The myriad colours of the jackets transform the attire to classic beauty. Inside the Kira, the women wear a long-sleeved blouse called Wonju available in silk, polyester, and cotton. The blouses are available in varied patterns and colours.
The women of Bhutan place a long scarf called Rachu while participating in any social gathering or during festivals and visiting temples. The colour of the scarves are usually red with varied patterns and designs and worn on the left side of the shoulder.
Both Bhutanese men and women also wear a traditional ceremonial scarf called Khata. Generally, people influenced by Tibetan Buddhism follow this tradition. Khata can be worn in all types of ceremonies starting from birth to funeral.
It is really commendable to observe how each and every individual of Bhutan respect their country’s traditions with humility and sense of pride. It is the unity and sincerity of the people in Bhutan which heralds the country and helps to promote its distinct presence in the world.