Chepuwa Kol on verge of extinction

Raj Kumar Parajuli

Kavre, May 31:

The Chepuwa Kol, a traditional type of oil mill, is on the verge of extinction in the district. Earlier, the number of these traditional mills were around two dozen, but only one remains now. Local Jagat Bahadur Manandhar said that out of the 24 mills, which started 90 years ago, only one is running currently. The mill operates with only two wooden planks between which baked mustard is pressed to produce oil. The remains of the mustards are used as feed for cattle. Since farmers are into commercial vegetable cultivation, production of mustard is very low. Moreover, consumers also prefer to have modern, machine-packed mustard oil to traditionally produced one. Earlier, women from Timal, Dapcha, Kusadevi, Dhungakharka and Sindhupalchowk, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu used to come to buy oil from Banepa. Local people said that wooden planks were earlier pressed with leather belts but were later made with iron nuts and bolts. Every year, a buffalo sacrifice was given to the kol and all the locals were given a feast. Leather derived from the buffalo was later made into a leather belt.

Manandhar said that current mills are of modern versions of traditional Chepuwa Kol and said that traditional ones need at least four people to operate, while the modern ones need just two. Manandhar added that the oil thus produced was termed sacred and was used for religious purposes and the sale of oil was good. He said that many have left this business as local administration took action against using leather for oil production. Lack of manpower, need of a bigger space to operate the kol and use of modern feed for cattle instead of mustard-remains as well as more time for oil production are major causes for the decline of kols in the district. Manandhar said that since only one kol is left in the district, he would preserve it and continue his occupation. Consumers said that oil produced from Chepuwa Kol is pure and is also cheap. The oil producers said that the government should conserve this kol.