Saturday, June 9, 2012


The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha (pronounced dz-ong-ka) , a confusing, hard-to-learn, interesting.. etc. language. Some people, especially in rural places, have a difficulty or even don't know how to speak Dzongkha. In the provincial lands, some common languages are Sharshop (often also called Sharshogpa), and Nepali. In Bumthang, Bumthap is spoken. There are many, many, many kinds of languages in Bhutan, and now in Thimphu most schools teach in English, Dzongkha as a second language.
Hindi and other Indian languages are not too uncommon, too. But don't worry! People, especially in Thimphu, will have a good vocabulary of English, and if you are from other nations, Bhutanese guides with knowledge of different languages like Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Chinese and other strange and wide-spread languages are being paid 100$ a day!
If a urgent desire urges you to learn Dzongkha, then Bhutanese friends are just the people to teach you, so come on - it isn't as complicated as it looks (well, kind of).

Bhutanese Clothes

Where should I start?

Well, Bhutanese clothes, women's wear called kira (pronounced kee-ra) and men's wear called gho (go, not jo), are very, very complicated to wear. The kira is basically a big piece of cloth wrapped around the body with a belt and clipped back with pins. Along with it come two "jackets", one which has to be worn and folded under the kira itself. The other "jacket" is a big, starched, well... crispy one which you put on after the ordeal of wearing the main thing.
The gho is also a piece of cloth, but it already has sleeves sewn into it, so it just has a short white jacket.
When going to dzongs and lhakangs, or when dressing formally, women wear a rachu, a red belt with criss-cross designs. It is wide and long and after being folded over some times, the rachu is slung over the shoulder.
Its partner, the kabney is a big soft cloth, white for the "common people", blue for the Parliament, orange for the ministers and yellow for the King and Je Khenpo. It's worn over the body with some complicated twists and is finally slung over the shoulder (again).
Rachu and Kabney
So be ready to sweat! Kiras and ghos are designed to be warm - and in hot days, so it won't be very clever to wear one of these in a heatwave (even if you want to show off to the neighbours).
But the current generation is eager to wear "foreign dress": pants, shirt and sweater. It seems "cool" to wear foreign clothing, imported from Korea or Thailand.
Fortunately, in schools it is mandatory to wear the national uniform, so the culture is safe for a while.