The best rules are perhaps those, which need not be implemented with punitive measures, or those that don’t need publicity through flashy bumper stickers or repeat broadcast mediums.
For that matter even in the days of yore, a rule silently, sincerely and devotedly followed without the assistance of a loud town crier and his high decibel drumbeats definitely trumped those rules which needed constant nitpickings.
A general example post-medieval and in the present day is the practice and culture of not wearing thermals inside the Ghos or socks before the Jekhenpo and the monastic body leaves for winter residence to Punakha.
According to an official with the Zhung Dratshang (monastic body), it is part of the tradition.
He said that it doesn’t imply compulsions for every people in the country regardless of where they are going but of course the visits for all the dzong or any government agencies does direct all its employees or visitors to abide by the rule.
Besides that while visiting dzongs for official work or casual visits, Bhutanese citizens are not to wear white colored shoes or sneakers. This is a rule, the administrative officer of the Zhung Dratshang said, to maintain a certain decorum within the system.
Tourists wishing to visit these sites have to specific rules as to what not to wear and what to wear. According to the books and the provisions of the law tourists are not supposed to wear shorts while entering the dzongs and also are not allowed to wear caps, flip flops and t-shirts. International tourists are expected to wear full pants and collared shirts.
Monks residing within the walls of the dzongs have certain rules or dress codes to follow but unlike the ordinary civilians they can wear slippers which are not white.
These rules to a foreigner may seem a little too conservative and suggestive of lack of freedom in one’s right to dress, but to the country and its people this is what defines Bhutan in general.
Monks in Tashichhodzong say these traditions have bound the Bhutanese people as one and is a form of respect given to one another, not demanded but a respect inclined towards the very ethics of Bhutanese history.
Security officials at the Tashichhodzong say although there are no serious implications in allowing individuals to enter the dzong wearing white sneakers but as they are ordered not to so they either ask individuals to enter bare footed or return back with appropriate foot wears.
However they say earlier sneakers of all sorts weren’t allowed to be worn while entering the dzong but now it’s been little eased with just white foot wears barred from entering.
The Secretary for the Department of Culture (DoC) said that, there are no specific records of as to when the rules of not allowing individuals to enter in the dzongs with white sneakers were made.
He also added that the usual practice or rule on ‘thermals inside Ghos’ were there since 400 years back during the time of Debs or Desis.
He said these practices were only seen in Thimphu and Punakha in those days since the Zhung Dratshang was largely based in these two towns; the dratshang spends six months in Thimphu during the Spring and summer seasons but migrates to Punakha for the other two seasons in Winter and Autumn.
The DoC secretary said these practices are not subject to any penalty if not followed with compulsion but he said it’s about the respect one should have for traditions that’s been followed since centuries ago.
“It’s about one’s conscience and moral,” he said. He also added that it’s our values and not laws to oppress an individual to involuntary subjugation.
However in other dzongkhags there are no rules as such to not allow one from entering a dzong without proper foot wear or scheduling one time on wearing thermals. But otherwise the regular probes on national utilities remain same all over.
With respect to these attributes the Bhutanese traditions thrive amidst all scrutiny and stereotypes describing it as inhumane but the fact remains as the principle of a Shedra in Paro said, “With these traditions in my heart I shall die with just a burden in my heart not being able to witness it going global someday”.