Dress code: Delhi Gymkhana club turns away top Bhutanese monk

The 100-year-old Delhi Gymkhana Club did not allow Bhutan’s second-highest ranking Buddhist monk to dine in the club on Monday, as the spiritual leader was sporting sandals and traditional lama attire. 

Tsugla Lopen Samten Dorji is the minister for education of the central monastic body in Bhutan.

Dorji was invited by a club member, Vandana Shah, a Mumbai-based lawyer, who was working on a book on Buddhism.  Shah claimed the club staff was rude to the monk.

“In Bhutan, people bow before Dorji. Here, the club staff was discourteous to him. It amounts to humiliating the Kingdom of Bhutan, a time-tested friend,” Shah said.

Less than two months ago, Bhutan’s king had agreed to come as the chief guest for the 2013 Republic Day celebrations after the Sultan of Oman turned down the invitation.

Gymkhana secretary Col OP Malhotra (retd) said, “Anyone who comes to the club has to follow the dress code.”

This episode is a throwback to the 1990s when the elite Calcutta Club turned away MF Husain for being barefoot, triggering a debate on whether exceptions should be made to the club’s “colonial” traditions.

Dorji’s aide Karma (who uses a single name) said the spiritual leader held no grouse against the club and respected its rules.

Malhotra said, “If we don’t adhere to a dress code, hundreds of people will come in all sorts of attires.” The membership of the club is highly sought after by Delhi’s power elite --- fresh applicants can become members only after 35 years.


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