It was 20 past 8 when I received a phone call from a friend of mine enquiring if it was holiday today for the snowfall for people have shared in Facebook the post of His Excellency, the Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs declaring the day, holiday. Upon inquiring friends, it was confirmed and Bhutan Broadcasting Service’s Radio, the only broadcast media in the Country also reported the same. No sooner did these convince us of the decision than friends of mine who have already put their Ghos, took off their respective Ghos, quite enthusiastically. For certain, same might have happened to Office goers, trainees and students of Thimphu, however, the happenings in other Districts are matters of enquiry.
As soon as I learnt that Royal Institute of Management (RIM) will remain close today, possibly after coming across the announcement from the Honourable Minister, I have to think on possibility of having presentation on Youth Initiative for Debate, Deliberation and Development (YIDDD) scheduled this afternoon. After consultation with Dodum, friends and my fellow presenters, we reached to a decision that we will present it tomorrow, Thursday, 6th March, 2014. While our program may not have significant bearings to the community and general people alike, same might have happened to my fellow countrymen who possibly might have had appointments, works to be completed, so forth and so on that could materialize only with government, corporate and private offices delivering its routine services. A day missed, and potentially a significant part of their lives, taking into consideration that the decision was ad hoc. Is it a different dimension of the State of Emergency? Possibly not! What then?
The Bhutanese, a weekly paper, covered a story on the day being declared as ‘Public Holiday’ by the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. While today’s snowfall was not the first of the Julian calendar in Bhutan for Thimphu experienced the first snowfall of 2014 on Saturday, January 11. Since it was during the weekend, Government has to wait for the snow to fall on one of the weekdays. So, today was the day! While ‘Public’ was mentioned, the scope of it was not defined for Civil Servants, Corporate and Private Employees in other parts of Bhutan, Bumthang for one, went to their respective offices though it also experienced the snowfall. May be it was not their first of 2014. I wonder, if people (civil servants, employees) in the Districts of Haa, Bumthang, Gasa and others get ‘Public Holiday’ during the first snowfall of the year, at least in their respective Dzongkhags. Thimphu is in Bhutan but Bhutan is not in Thimphu.
While the history of ‘Snowfall Holiday’ is mystery to me, I see room to reflect on the decision. People in the helm, repeatedly stressed on reducing number of ‘Public Holidays’, plausibly to complete work on time and ensure service delivery to the masses, snowfall holiday may contradict its stand. Quite recently, Blessed Rainy Day (Khrues Babs) did not qualify in the lists of Public Holidays; however, it was incorporated later. Last year, Meeting of Nine Evils (Ngen pa dGu ‘Zoms) met the same fate, possibly to reduce the number of ‘Public Holidays’. These days have place in Bhutanese history and have been part and parcel of people as an annual event but then their significance seem secondary to the first day of snowfall in a District. A day missed and a place lost, may be for greater good!