Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Survival of Drogpa Cultural and Traditional Memes and the Threat of Modern Development

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Survival of Drogpa Cultural and Traditional Memes and the Threat of Modern Development

Article excerpt


This paper examines the impact of modern amenities such as roads, electricity, cell phones, television, and tourism on the two Drogpa communities of Me rag and Sag steng. It also aims to study the misinterpretation of ancient Drogpa history. The paper concludes that the endurance of Drogpa culture is uncertain and thus, loss of their identity is imminent in the near future. Therefore, the future of Drogpa culture and their hospitable behaviour will depend on how well they perceive and respond to the modern developments. Finally, this paper concludes that the government of Bhutan and Drogpa should proceed collaboratively to sustain their valuable culture and traditions. Furthermore, government should also examine methodically prior to executing any development activity to make certain that tribal cultures be endorsed and more tribal youths be encouraged to acclimatize to their cultures and traditions.

Keywords: Bhutan, biography, culture, Drogpa, modern development

1. Introduction

Should Brogpa (Tib. 'brog pa) (Wangmo, 1990; Chand, 2000, 2004, p. 1; Dorji, 2002; Pelgen, 2003; Dompnier, 2007, pp. 6-11; Bhattarai et al., 2011; Wangchuk et al., 2012) or Drogpa (Central Tibetan dialect: 'drog pa) (Karchung, 2011) uphold their unique culture and hospitable behaviour along with the modern developments? Drogpa have access to modern amenities such as roads, electricity, mobile phones, television, and cooking appliances, marking the commencement of acculturation. Therefore, the sustainability of Drogpa culture and behaviour is an enormous challenge in this technologically advancing world whereby the influential cultures of West are being adopted by the people and eventually modifying the existing age-old cultural and traditional memes (White, 1959; Bowler, 1990; Banerjee, 1998; Groenfeldt, 2003; Chand, 2000; Dompnier, 2007, p. 1; Karchung, 2011).

Among the various ethnic groups of people residing in Bhutan-e.g., Monpas of Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa, Zhemgang and Dagana regions, Toktops of Chhukha district, Doya (Lhops), Taba and Dramtoep of Samtse district, Khengpa of Zhemgang district, Bjop of Gasa district and Drogpa of Me rag (pronounced as Merak) and Sag steng (pronounced as Sakteng) regions (Chakravarti, 1981, p. 18; Noble, 1984, p. 12; Gyamtsho, 2000; Chand, 2004, pp. 24-25, 2009; Chettri, 2008; Dorji, 2008, p. 5; Karchung, 2011; Wangchuk et al., 2012) are culturally distinct. Drogpa constitutes indubitably a unique tribe of Eastern Bhutan (Wangmo, 1990; Chand, 2000; Dompnier, 2007, pp. 6-11). They possess exclusive and inimitable cultures, traditions and behaviour that have cradled all the way through their successive generations of the mythical bird (Garuda (Byachung)) kings Dabzang ('dab bzang) and Shogzang (Gshog bzang) (Chand, 2000; Pelgen, 2003; Dompnier, 2007, pp. 12-15) and Ama Jomo Remati (Pelgen, 2003) or Ama Jomo (Wangmo, 1990; Dompnier, 2007, p. 1), also referred to as Khamsang Ama Jomo (Karchung, 2011). They depend on the herds of yaks and sheep for their livelihood. Drogpa are categorized as semi-nomads/pastoralist because the herders (Nag rdze; pronounced as "Na ze")-each house has 1 or 2 Nag rdzes depending on herd size-practice seasonal migration (Wangmo, 1990; Chand, 2000; Dompnier, 2007, p. 36) and rest of the people have permanent settlements in various parts of Me rag and Sag steng geogs (a block level administrative unit).

The significance of this paper is that, it discusses on the culture, traditions and behaviour of Drogpa that are changing hastily along with the globalizing world. Therefore, we will present the successive changes of Drogpa culture, traditions and behaviour as a result of modern developments, and we expect that it would provide a wider depiction of Drogpa transformation to the readers concerning how indigenous cultures, traditions and behaviours are overwhelmed and endangered by the global culture (see Groenfeldt, 2003; Triandis, 2006; Hosseini, 2010; Karchung, 2011). …

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