Gho, for men, and kira, for women, are national dress of Bhutan. All Bhutanese, except monks and nuns, are required to wear national dress in schools, government offices and on formal occasions. It is also customary to wear national dress while joining festivals and visiting temples, monasteries and Dzongs. Monks and nuns wear red robes.
Gho is knee length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera. Kira, an ankle length long rectangular ankle length cloth, is wrapped around the body in a series of folds. It is tied at waist with kera and worn over a blouse-like wonju. Jacket-like tego is worn over it. Gho and kira comes in variety of colors and patterns.
While gho is similar to western robes and Tibetan chuba, kira is a distinct and native Bhutanese dress. It is believed that both men and women wore kira before 17th Century.
To give distinctive identity to Bhutanese men, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel introduced gho in the 17th Century. The design is said to have copied from Guru Padmasambhava’s costume. Women continued wearing kira.
Traditionally, Bhutanese women wove cloth pieces. Cloth pieces are further stitched to make gho and kira.
On formal occasions, gho need to be complemented by kabney, a long scarf that runs from left shoulder to the right hip. Similarly, kira is complemented by rachu, by wearing on the left shoulder. Both kabney and rachu are used as a way of showing respect to higher authority and sacred places.
Today, national dress is enshrined in the Constitution of Bhutan.