Fined for Refusing to Participate in a Village Festival

Sherab Dema, the daughter of the-once Dropon (lead dancer), was fined Nu 100,000 in Sept 2017 for refusing to participate in the village festival. The villagers would not have it that Sherab Dema’s father is now too old and physically challenged to be able to perform at the festival.

 

The preservation and promotion of culture is becoming increasingly difficult in rural Bhutan. While we continue to give special importance to the cardinal pillars of Gross National Happiness, our changing society is grappling with new challenges.

Some communities which lie far away from the dazzling lights of the cities are today facing a serious shortage of people to perform cultural dances and songs.

Last month, in Kamdar, Lhuentse, a family was sued by the community members for refusing to participate in the community’s dance festival.

The festival called Drochhung had faded away quietly. The people of Kamdar, Tangmachu, and Phagedung tried to revive it. Local leaders argued that preserving and promoting local cultures and traditions is important.

However, the family that the communities sued did not see it that way. They, the members of the family, felt that they were bullied.

Sherab Dema, the daughter of the-once Dropon (lead dancer), was fined Nu 100,000 in Sept 2017 for refusing to participate in the village festival. The villagers would not have it that Sherab Dema’s father is now too old and physically challenged to be able to perform at the festival.

Nu 100,000 is no small amount for farmers. Sherab Dema has agreed to pay the fine. What this tells us is that the family really had no other options.

If the preservation and promotion of culture should come to this, it will be very costly for the people in the future. Young people are increasingly leaving their villages and going to towns and cities to seek better lives and economic opportunities.

Aging parents back home can do only so much. While some cultures are dying quietly, many have already vanished.

As our society progresses, culture will inevitably evolve. Our unique national dress, language and some common cultures will be all that will define us in the long run.

Efforts to preserve local cultures are important, but changing times as such comes with unique demands of their own. Making each member of a community contribute to reviving our tradition is not feasible and sustainable.

Today, this happened in Kamdar. Tomorrow it could be some other villages. Community vitality can only be nurtured, it cannot be forced.

What about individual rights then?

(This article has been edited for the Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on Kuensel.

 


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