Janik Rai article gives a detailed insight into her recent ethnography in Nepal, the reason for her study was to be able to discuss the resurfacing significance of the ‘Bohna’ the ‘ traditional ethnic dress of the Dhimal’(Rai, 2014) in relation to political movements but also ‘gender relations’ in the Dhimal people. Rai’s research provides a specific perspective into what the Bohna means to the women of the Dihmal. Interestingly the Bohna is allowed to be adapted, to a certain extent to reflect the personality of the wearer. This is surprising as the normal practice for traditional dress is to keep it under specific rules and regulations. However, Rai’s ethnography proves that in some ways this makes the Bohna Dress more significant and powerful especially for young women as they are able to express themselves in everyday life. The Dhimal are looking to be seen as “suitably modern” (Liechty 2003) this inference can be made due to many different factors including the Dhimal’s conscious effort to make sure that images of the Dhimal women wearing the Bohna are seen as much as possible by other communities and countries.
Rai’s main argument throughout the article is that the Bohna holds great significance for the Dihmal as it is used as a tool of exclusion to other groups of people that live in Nepal such as the ‘Madhesi’. The Dhimal take great pride in being the aboriginal tribe and take great care in making sure they are perceived how they want to be through the dress the women wear. Rai also looks at how the roles of men and women have changed.
The traditional dress of the Dhimal men is now unheard of due to political restriction in the late 1960’s, this means that the responsibility of carrying the pride of the Dhimal people falls on solely the women “Dhimal women are the pillars of our culture,” (Rai, 2014) many Dhimal men proudly told me” this respect for women from the men of the community will fuel the need to carry on the Bohna tradition. This brings into question the position women hold in this communities legacy. Rai wants to be able to answer “Why did Dhimal women continue to weave and use Bohna?” (Rai, 2014) this is explained as only Dhimal women are taught how to make the Bohna through the passing down of the skill throughout the women of families. The skill of being able to weave and produce useable products is desirable and a woman’s “marriageability” (Rai, 2014) is based on it. The tradition of weaving may also be carried on as it builds a stable social solidarity between the women of the group, “social solidarity is important in many areas of our lives” including “family and kinship relationships, community life”(Crow, 2002) Ria’s work uses this to explain the ties that the Bohna creates . The fact that the Bohna is made and not bought makes it even more significant in the eyes of the Dhimal. This is because if given as a gift it holds spiritual significance as someone has taken the time to labour over it this significance is reinforced by the exclusion the Bohna represents. If you are given a Bohna and are not an original