One of the first things we did was go shopping for the local dress. The Bhutanese women typically wear something known as a kira. A kira is basically a two-piece outfit consisting of a skirt and a blouse. As for the men’s garb, the gho is a one-piece robe fastened with a belt. Both of these outfits can be worn during everyday life and for special occasions, with the material and pattern varying accordingly. While some Bhutanese people choose to wear clothing of a more Western variety, traditional Bhutanese clothing is deeply encouraged to help retain the country’s rich culture and history.
We were given the freedom to choose their own style and color of gho and kira. As a result of this freedom, gho styles ranged from spice traders to Anakin Skywalker to Ikea couches to tropical kings. There were two different styles of kiras to choose from—with utter transparency, the shopkeeper was very honest about what she thought about each kira. Consequently, all the girls’ kiras looked very fashionable. Walking out of the store, students realized their guides were also wearing ghos but with much more reasonable colors. Additionally, we quickly discovered there was a bit of a learning curve to wearing these traditional clothes. The humbling aspect of wearing such clothing is that it requires help from a local to wear unless you have two extra arms. Wearing the ghos and kiras is a very engaging experience for students as they find themselves more invested and knowledgeable about Bhutanese tradition.