Burey business flourishes across the border

It is a gloomy day and SamdrupJongkhar is cacophonous with the traffic and crowds.

However, this is nothing compared to the air of excitement about 4km away towards the border town of Daranga in Assam.

Commuters make visits to the crowded street known by the name Mela bazaar or Gudama where piles of unique textiles are displayed on the racks that are perfectly fabricated with traditional Bhutanese designs.

Apart from all forms of gho and kira, the hawkers also sell other burey items like thread, kabney (scarf), shawl and tegos.

Commuters buy burey for themselves while some buy them as gifts. The major buyers are people living in the eastern dzongkhags.

Gupta, 44, who has been selling burey items for the last 25 years greets people passing by in Sharchop and ask if they want to buy burey.

Like Gupta, other shopkeepers also speak fluent Sharchop as they had been interacting with people from the east since time immemorial.

With more than 20 Bhutanese customers visiting his shop daily, he sells burey items worth Nu 200,000 a month. “I have customers as far as from Paro and Thimphu who thrive on doing burey business there,” he said. “Especially during winter vacation and summer vacation I can make more profit.”

The price of a bureygho and kira ranges up to Nu 15,000 and for kabney the prices range up to 4,000 depending upon the quality.

Another shopkeeper said that his monthly sales range from Nu 50,000 to Nu 200,000.

Similarly, a wholesale dealer, Vijay said that he keeps a very small profit of Nu 100 to 200 per piece. “My customers are from Thimphu, Bumthang and Paro, they visit only once a month and buy silk worth Nu 200,000.”

Sonam Jamtsho, 28, from Trashigang who thrives on doing burey business said he has been involved in the business for the past two years. “I am continuing my father’s business who has been doing burey business for the past two decades,” he said. “Everyone buys burey items and we can make a good profit from the business.”

He also said that burey business is his main means of survival.

Additionally, he also said that he does not have to worry about not being able to sell the burey items. “There is a big rush for the products in the country.”

Unlike Sonam Jamtsho, there are other burey buyers who come to buy burey items every year for their family.

“This is a place to stay if people come looking to buy burey items,” said one of the shoppers. “Burey products are affordable here.”

Meanwhile, of the 50 shops, nine are wholesale dealers selling a variety of burey clothes, while there are shops dealing with retail business.

Jigme Wangchen from SamdrupJongkhar