Hawking bands of love


With the festival rakhi here, the Basantapur and New Road among other places are filled with hawkers selling the bands that tie the loving bond between brothers and sisters. Though not a typical Nepali festival, rakhi has become a popular celebration in recent years.

Rakhi is the day when sisters wish and pray for the long, happy and prosperous lives of their brothers and tie rakhis on their brothers’ wrists as a symbol of this love. The brothers in turn give their sisters gifts or money.

The hawkers are selling different kinds of rakhis with the pedestrians either bargaining earnestly with the bhaiyas or watching the endless transactions in awe. Some have shops that are decked with these colourful bands.

Better business prospects

Twenty-four-year-old Sunil Bhagat has set up a small rakhi shop in the small lane in Makhan. He came from Birgunj two years ago and has been working in a store with some of his friends. Whenever such festive seasons come, he is ready with his shop selling colours during Holi, rakhis during Rakshya Bandhan, among others.

“It’s been four days since I set up the shop, and business is pretty good,” he says.

Due to financial constraints he could not continue his studies after SLC and the Maoist insurgency made it difficult for him to find any job then. So he headed to the Capital to earn a living for his family of six.

A grandmother and granddaughter duo were busy setting up shop at Basantapur next to a temple. Basanta Devi, 64, and Rachana Gupta, 13, are here from Raxaul for medical treatment, and decided to do some business.

“I first came to Nepal in 2016 BS after getting married and my husband was a cook in a sweet shop. Back then I just stayed home, but now I see lots of prospects in business. So, whenever I get time, I do some easy business while visiting Nepal,” she says.

Life like theirs

Sunil, who came with dreams to make it big in the Valley, had plans to get into the army. Supporting his parents and wife with two daughters is not an easy ride for him with just Rs 6,000-7,000 as monthly salary. He laments that if only he had got chance to study, he would have studied till BEd and got a well-paying job.

On Saturdays, his weekly off, he prefers going for movies and liked his latest watch Singh is Kiing a lot. He does not have a sister and gets rakhi from his friend’s sister and plans to give her some money.

Basanti Devi got married at a very young age and left her studies after Class V.

Living off her husband’s earning, she could not earn on her own despite having innovative ideas and regrets that a lot.

“I decided to educate my daughters instead,” she says. Four of her daughters have studied only till Class V, but her youngest one is doing her Bachelors and teaching in a school. “She wanted to study medical, but it was not possible financially,” informs Basanti Devi.

She feels bad that her brothers don’t invite her for rakhi after a spat long ago.

Living with


Dowry is a fact in the Tarai area and no one has been left untouched by it.

Sunil who has two daughters doesn’t want them to study beyond SLC, and wants to get them married soon after their schooling.

“The mentality there is all about dowry, so if you get your daughter too highly educated, you need an equally educated groom and the cost goes higher,” he admits. Sunil himself got Rs 12,000 as tilak and a cycle in dowry. He says change is difficult and there is a long way to go for people to accept it.

On the other hand Basanti Devi got her eldest daughter married with very little dowry, two others had love marriage, and the youngest wants to finish her studies before settling down. She did not take anything while getting her only son married.

“What to do with money. We have enough and a good daughter-in-law is better than any amount,” she says adding, “When I said no to dowry, people said Nepal ko hawa lage chha (going Nepali way), but I did not care. Someone has to do something.”

She recently moved back to Raxaul after her husband retired and misses Kathmandu’s easy life.

“I use to watch movies but now only bhajans attract me. Those were the days of Dharmendra, Jitendra, Dev Anand, Hema Malini and Nargis. But now a days it’s all about shedding clothes,” she laughs.