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BHUTAN IN FEMININE


Lourdes Segade

Hidden between Tibet, Nepal, China and India, Bhutan is a tiny kingdom different from anything one might have seen before. On March 24th 2008 Bhutan had its first democratic elections and it will even have a young new king at the end of the year. This will be the year of Bhutan. Bhutan's citizens have an Akira Kurosawa’s look and move around dressed in their medieval kiras and ghos (traditional female and male gowns) though always with a mobile phone on their hands. Isolated for most of the 20th Century, they got television only after 1999 and have a particular way to preserve their own culture: one can only visit the country after getting permission and paying 220 USD per day as royalties. It is, probably, the weirdest country in the world and so is the situation of Bhutanese women. Unlike most of the Southeast Asian countries, having a baby girl in Bhutan is not only welcome but received as a blessing to the family. In this kind of matriarcal society, inheritance is performed through women and they use to have properties under their names as divorce is a common practice; they start sexual life soon and in a very natural way –they don’t even have a word to say ‘virginity’– and there is a law to assure no salary difference between men and women. Women are also racing to get good positions in politics. This will be the year of Bhutan. And it could be, too, the year of Bhutanese women. (FULL TEXT AVAILABLE CONTACTING Paka Díaz at pakadc@hotmail.com)


 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165812

In the 5th day of Tibetan New Year celebrations, a Tibetan woman prays as walking around Dochu La chorten (always clockwise). The chorten is conformed by 108 'stupas' (buddhist sanctuaries, on the left) built by queen Ashi Dorji Wnagmo. Dochu La pass is 3.180 meters high.

Timphu, Bhoutan - 11/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165829

Pedey, owner of a shop in Paro, as she prays while watching TV. Religion is a great part of daily life in Bhutan. Buddhism is practiced by every single person in the country. The most visible form are the monks one can see all around. But it is also easy to find people walking in the streets and praying with a 'mala' (stringed beads) or sitting and repeating the mantra Om mani padme hum while making a prayers wheel turn round and round.

Paro, Bhoutan - 13/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165827

Indian citizens from West Bengal working to build Bhutan's main road. They have been doing so for one year and will do it for yet one more moth. Afterwards they will be taken to a military base in Southern Bhutan, where they will work for three months, and then back home. Men and women are working in the road, that is being paid by Indian government.

Bhoutan - 13/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165805

A young woman living near the Timphu Zoo, in the mountains, as she does the washing up

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0166822

Archers during a competition in Paro

Paro, Bhoutan - 09/02/2008

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Bidha (lowered) and Kinley Choden are members of a dance group. They are waiting in Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery) to get their dresses for a festival they have to dance at.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Namgay Bidha (left) and Bidha, members of a dance group as they try on their dresses for a festival they have to dance at in the Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery). Despite her youngness, Namgay is married and already has a baby.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165817

Members of a dance group as they wait in Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery) to get their dresses for a festival they have to dance at. They are dressing the traditional kira (skirt). It usually goes with a wonju (silk blouse) and a tego (silk jacket). Everyone in the country is obliged to wear the traditional costume (a 'gho' for men) when visiting public and official places and when going to work.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Sonam Dorgi offers a betel nut to his wife. Chewing betel nut is a popular habit in Bhutan. From children to old people, everyone does it. The visible effects of chewing it are red coloured teeth and mouth and a stinky breath.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Woman selling at Timphu vegetables market, held weekly from Friday to Sunday. Chili is, in Bhutan, not just a spice but a traditional dish. People from rural areas come to this market to sell their products.

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165825

Namgay Bidha (left) and Bidha, members of a dance group as they try on their dresses for a festival they have to dance at in the Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery). Despite her youngness, Namgay is married and already has a baby.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165808

Young waitresses at the Tiger Pub counter in Timphu. Many youngsters are moving from rural areas to the cities so they need to look for a job in order to survive themselves and to maintain their families expectations regarding the money they should send for them.

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165834

Doctor Tin Mar Wai, Gynaechologist from Burma (left), and staff Nurse Kunley Yangzon (right) as they visit one of their patients at Paro Hospital. With about 40 beds and only four doctors (two general, a Gynaechologist and an Anaesthetist), Paro hospital is a modest one. The main hospital is in Timphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Health care is public in the country and given for free to every citizen who may need it. When it is not possible to attend properly one of the patients because of the lack of resources, he or she is brought to a private hospital in India, along with one companion, with expenses paid for both.

Paro, Bhoutan - 15/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165835

Doctor Kalpana (right) as she attends one of her patients at Paro Hospital helped by a Clinical Officer (center). With about 40 beds and only four doctors (two general, a Gynaechologist and an Anaesthetist), Paro hospital is a modest one. The main hospital is in Timphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Health care is public in the country and given for free to every citizen who may need it. When it is not possible to attend properly one of the patients because of the lack of resources, he or she is brought to a private hospital in India, along with one companion, with expenses paid for both.

Paro, Bhoutan - 15/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0166825

Prayer flags in the forest near the Dochu-La mountain pass

Dochu-La pass, Bhoutan - 11/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165813

In the 5th day of Tibetan New Year celebrations, Tibetan women as they take photos in front of Dochu La chorten, conformed by 108 stupas built by queen Ashi Dorji Wnagmo, in Dochu La pass, 3.180 meters high.

Dochu La pass, Bhoutan - 11/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165826

Public of the Punakha Dzong 'tsechu' (religious festival) as they wait for the sow to start

Punakha, Bhoutan - 13/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0166823

Way up to Takshang monastery (Tiger's Nest, on the right). Takshang is believed to be the place where Guru Rimpoche (who introduced Buddhism in the Himalaya) had his retreat.

Takshang monastery, Paro, Bhoutan - 14/02/2008

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A nun in retreat on the way to Takshang monastery (Tiger's Nest, on the right), as she prays at the door of her retreat home. Religion is a great part of daily life in Bhutan. Buddhism is practiced by every single person in the country. The most visible form are the monks and nuns one can see all around. But it is also easy to find people walking in the streets and praying with a 'mala' (stringed beads) or sitting and repeating the mantra Om mani padme hum while making a prayers wheel turn round and round.

Takshang monastery, Paro, Bhoutan - 14/02/2008

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Eden Lhamo, a 31 years old touristic guide, helps a policeman cleaning some butter lamps at Timphu Dzong. Religion is very important in people's daily lives and the main precept of Buddhism is to practice love and compassion. By helping the others one improves her/his karma.

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165810

Bhutanese writer Kunzang Choden, the first woman to write a novel in the Himalayan kingdom, as she poses before a 'tangka', a typical brocade, religious art from the Himalaya area

Timphu, Bhoutan - 11/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165814

Members of a dance group as they wait in Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery) to get their dresses for a festival they have to dance at. These girls are in between 18 and 21 years old and the majority of them are already married. Some of them even have children. Bhutanese women are quire liberal regarding sexual relations.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165824

21 years old Sonam Dorgi (right) with his wife Namgay Bidha and their baby in Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery). In Nepal it is very common to get married when young.

Punakha, Bhoutan - 12/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165809

Young waitress at the Tiger Pub counter in Timphu. Many youngsters are moving from rural areas to the cities so they need to look for a job in order to survive themselves and to maintain their families expectations regarding the money they should send for them.

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165828

A woman has her hair cut at a barber shop in Paro under the sight of curious men and boys

Paro, Bhoutan - 13/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165806

Deki is weaving an artcrafted kira that will take her one year to finish. It will cost about 2.000 USD once it is done, after having placed correctly each yarn individually. Phurpu Dorji, her son, and Dorgi, a friend of his, are always curious about the process

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0165811

From left right: Kesang Choden, worker of the UNDP, Chimmi, worker at the Tourism Department and Pema Lhamo, member of the Bhutan's National Council, as they dance during a dinner with friends

Timphu, Bhoutan - 10/02/2008

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