Katuwals barely scrape a living

GORKHA: In spite of the availability of modern means of communication, people in rural areas of Gorkha district still rely on Katuwals — persons traditionally employed to disseminate information about local incidents and events — for information.

“Katuwals inform people about local disputes, deaths, common pooja, meetings and theft in the village,” Karna Bahadur Gurung of Kutigung of Shreenathkot said, adding, “As the local people find modern means of communication expensive, the Katuwal system still lives on in the village.” The Katuwals are offered food in return for their service.

Suk Bahadur Sarki, a Katuwal, however, claims that the tradition of informing people through this system is very much at peril. “The younger generation is gradually turning to modern means of communication. A household used to provide a pathi of millet annually for our services, but it has increasingly become difficult for us to feed our family with such paltry payments,” he laments.

“Though workers across the country have seen hikes in their salaries over the years, we continue to get the same amount of the millet we used to get ages ago,” he said, adding, “I collect 250 pathis of millet in the return for my service annually, however, the quantity of millet is hardly enough to feed my family round the year.”

Sarki who has been carrying on the profession from his ancestors said that people did not even happily offer him his due on time. “We are required to have our compulsory appearance in the hours of need, but we have to wait for months to get our pay. I hope my children will not have to work as Katuwal to earn their livelihood,” he said.