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Porters lament lack of work on day of wealth

KATHMANDU, NOV 13 -

Outside the Nardevi temple, six or seven porters lounge around, waiting for an assignment that will help them pay for a trip back home for Bhaitika. For Nardevi’s porters, the festival of lights and prosperity has yet to arrive as most had yet to make a single paisa on the Laxmi Puja day.

Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is welcomed and worshipped during Tihar but for the porters, Laxmi seems to have passed them by.

Iman Singh Lama, 52, is one of the porters waiting for work to earn him some cash to travel home to Ramechhap. “Today, not a single porter from this colony has made any money. Tomorrow, I am planning to get back home and I need a minimum of two thousand rupees. The travel cost alone is Rs 600 and I also need to take gifts along,” said Lama. “During Tihar, there used to be plenty of work and we had no time to even breathe. I remember hauling sweets, sel, fruits and flowers the entire day.” He recalled earning Rs 2,000 a day during Laxmi Puja. However, Tihar is not a festival to be neglected so Lama, even if he doesn’t make any money, will head home with a high-interest loan from a friend.

Dhana Bahadur, another porter, echoed Lama. Dhana claimed that the festival of Tihar is only for the rich. “Every day is the same for us as we have small incomes. This year, the festival has even stolen our regular income from us. There has been no money so far but we hope to make something by the evening,” said Dhana. However, he is not too optimistic. “I have to take gifts for three sisters for Bhaitika. I also have to take goods for my eight children. But I don’t have the money and I can’t afford to buy anything,” lamented Dhana. “I am probably the only guy with a first name that means wealth and is broke.”

The porters are desperate, their eyes hungrily scanning every passerby for work. “I think even the sweet vendors aren’t doing good business. Before they gave us work but now, we have been sitting here all day waiting,” said Lama.

 

Posted on: 2012-11-14 09:57


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