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Kira for women
Half kira: easy to wear, affordable
Rachu for women
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Gho, Kira & Rachu
Wearing a Kira
HM Queen Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck and Princess Ashi Chimi Yangzom

The kira is first draped around the back under the right arm. Wrap it around the tront and fasten on your left shoulder with a koma (silver hook). Fold it left to right across your front and then right to left. The remaining cloth is gathered under the left arm and wrapped around the back to the right shoulder, and fastened with a second koma. A kera is wrapped around the waist to form a pouch.

The kaymeto (widthways border) is always worn at the back.

A toego (jacket) is often worn with the kira, and the sleeves of the wanju(blouse) can be folded back over the toego to form cuffs.

Wearing a Rachu
Women graduates practise wearing the rachu around the shoulders
Bhutanese women will wear the rachu around the shoulder while showing reverence to senior personalities and religious figures according to the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. At other times the rachu will be, as usual, worn on the left shoulder.

"This step is being taken to revive an age old tradition," said senior Driglam Namzha Lopon, Tshering Penjor, who oriented 145 women graduates attending the National Graduates Orientation Programme on the proper way of wearing the rachu.

According to Tshering Penjor the rachu should be worn on the left shoulder and while bowing down or showing respect one fold of the rachu should be brought around to the right shoulder. He said that the rachu should be worn the same way while prostating in temples and when receiving blessings.

But the rachu will continue to be used the usual way wherever the rachu is required to be worn.

Tshering Penjor said that he did an intensive research on the particular tradition by talking to 17 people who knew about the tradition which existed during the time of the second King. The 17 interviewees aged between 72-88 years were from Thimphu, Punakha, Trongsa, Bumthang, Paro and Pemagatshel.

Tshering Penjor said that while it was not known when the particular tradition of wearing the rachu around the shoulder disintegrated, research indicated that it was widely practiced during the reign of the first and second Kings. Some graduates said they liked the idea of draping the rachu around the shoulder as it made them look more elegant and feminine. Others said that it was more comfortable when bowing. Tshering Penjor said that the rachu should be approximately 10 spans and the breadth should be one and a half span of the person wearing it. "The adang rachu should be worn so that while bowing the inside of the rachu will show patterns, and is not plain," he said.

The kabney and rachu tradition was first brought into Bhutan by Guru Rinpoche in the eight century according to Tshering Penjor. "Later in seventeenth century Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal assigned different coloured kabneys for different designations," he said.

Contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper
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