Monday, 29 November, 2021

Dhaka topi sales affected by COVID-19 pandemic


By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, Nov. 13 :Demand for Dhaka fabric usually increases during Dashain and Tihar festival and wedding season. But the business of Dhaka has been badly affected this Tihar because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past, sales of traditional Nepali Topis used to be high with the arrival of Dashain and Tihar. But this year, most Dhaka Topi traders are spending their time waiting for customers.
Dhaka Topi is one of the major items sisters buy as a present to their brothers for Bhai Tika day.
Purbeli Dhaka Topi Fabric of Dharan opened its branch at Bangemuda in Kathmandu two years back. The business was quite satisfactory in the first year but this year the business has totally gone down, Prasant Shrestha, owner of the branch, said.
“We have a collection of traditional Nepali caps (topi), Daura Suruwal and handmade boutique collection of Dhaka fabric. But sales this Tihar festival are very low even though Tihar is the best season of Dhaka business.”
‘‘Our shop has Topis with their prices ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 3,000. The quality of fabric determines the cost of a Dhaka Topi,” he said.
Indian Dhaka which looks like Nepali Dhaka is easily available in the market but the attire made from Palpali Dhaka and Purbeli Dhaka fabric are available in my shop. Machine print Indian Dhaka is similar to Nepali Dhaka but its quality is low, he said.
He added, “Our Dhaka business has spread to foreign countries - America, Japan, U.K. and Australia. But the business of Dhaka abroad is not satisfactory either due to global COVID-19 pandemic.”
He said they were making some income through online business.
The condition of Karna Bajracharya, a Dhaka fabric trader at Bhedasing, is not different from Shrestha’s.
Bajracharya, who has been giving continuity to the ancestral business of selling Dhaka fabric-made attires, said that the business which was not good even in the past had been further affected after the enforcement of lockdown, adding it had not revived yet.
The growing number of Dhaka traders is one of the causes for the decline in business. The growing import of Indian Dhaka fabric has put the typical Dhaka cloth at risk, he added.
However, of late, quality of Dhaka of Palpa has also declined because of the use of machine. Even a decade ago, its quality was high because it was handmade, he said.
Dhaka fabric is brought from Palpa and Terathum and Topi is made in Kathmandu. The people of Asan, Kalimati and Kalanki sew Topis.
Bajracharya said that he started selling Indian Dhaka at his shop after the customers demanded for low priced topis. Indian Dhaka’s price is lower compared to Nepali Dhaka.
Prints of the Indian Dhaka are similar to Nepali Dhaka but its quality is lower because it has mixed fabric but Nepali Dhaka is weaved with 100 per cent cotton, he said.
Dhaka Topi is Nepal’s identity, and the people of hills wear it as a pride of Nepali men and the nation.
The topi is worn by government officials as a part of the national dress and Dhaka Topi day is celebrated in Nepal on January 1 after the People’s Movement of 2006.