New-age tailors’ deluge threatens the old order

Palpa, October 31:

People from the Damai community, traditionally engaged in sewing for generations, are facing

competition from the rising numbers of people from other communities who have turned to tailoring in Tansen, the district headquarters of Palpa. Increasingly, people of the Damai community are going abroad or to other districts in search of work.

Till some time ago, Damais were the only people working as tailors but now they face new rivals. Maya Saru is one example. She learnt sewing so as to utilize her leisure and earn a few extra bucks. Many others like Saru have embraced the profession. The positive aspect of this trend is that there seems to be a social meltdown of old prejudices, but the flip side is that it is giving heebie-jeebies to the damai which is incerasingly getting edged out of its age-old calling. The swell in number of tailors has reduced sewing charges in Tansen. “The price of everything has gone up, but not the price of our labour. Many people work as tailors at lower rates secretly and put others in crisis,” said Surya Ratan.

Palpa’s Nepal Tailoring Workers’ Union secretary Sanjaya Budhapriti said there were more people in the tailoring business from other castes than those traditionally involved in it. Sewing machines are available even in retail shops and clothing stores, threatening the profession of those who have opened tailoring shops. Union president Bishnu Gautam said the union would work to protect the livelihood of those in the profession since ages.