Botes treading riverbank gold trail

Tanahun, October 28:

People of the Bote community at Kumaltari of Byas municipality-5 are heading to the riverbanks to search for gold to manage money for the repayment of loans taken for the celebration of Dashain and Tihar festivals. They headed towards the riverbanks with food and supplies like beds, tents, utensils, and sacks of rice yesterday.

People of the Bote community take loans from gold and silver entrepreneurs in Damauli Bazaar and pay back the loan by sifting gold grains from the riverbanks every year. A dozen Botes, including Santa Bahadur Bote, Min Bahadur Bote and Kamal Bahadur Bote, have gone to search for gold along the riverbanks, said Jit Bahadur Bote, adding that they have gone to the banks of Trishuli, Budhi Gandaki and Kali Gandaki rivers.

The Bote community is spread over a settlement of three kilometres west of the district headquarters Damauli. Some 35 Bote families are living in 27 houses in the settlement. Fishing, searching for gold and farming are their main professions. “Though I brought gold equivalent to Rs 3,000 during Tihar, I could not repay the entire loan amount,” said Min Bahadur Bote.

Karna Bahadur Bote (43) is also gearing up to go on the hunt for gold. “I have arranged to keep my two sons and daughter with my brother-in-law. Now, I will go to the riverbanks in search of gold,” said Karna Bahadur. His wife Mangali Bote will accompany him in his quest.

Sano Suk Bahadur Bote (39) had scooped up gold equivalent to Rs 2,400 during Dashain and Tihar festivals. However, he could not repay his loan amount this year.

People of Bote community said they were unable to collect gold during the conflict period as both the security personnel and the Maoists used to forbid them from lighting fires to prepare food. “Now we are hopeful about collecting gold without fear this year as the peace talks are going on after the ceasefire call,” said Karna Bahadur. “We have neither land nor jobs. So, we have no option but to adopt the profession of our ancestors,” said Suk Bahadur.