People are seen rushing towards Dhaka topi stores for last minute shopping for 'Bhai Tika' . Dhaka topi, Nepal's national hat, has a lot of cultural significance, especially during Tihar. Its demand is comparatively higher during the festive season for this reason.
"It is a compulsion that your head is not bare while receiving tika in the Hindu culture. For this reason, Dhaka topi is quite popular especially during festivities", explains Mohan Raj Sharma Paudyal, owner of Paudyal Palpali Dhaka Showroom. "Because Dhaka topi is so important for Hindu rituals, sisters gift these topis to their brothers during Bhai Tika '', he adds explaining its importance during Tihar in particular.
Dhaka topi sellers are not happy with their business this year. There aren't as many sales this year compared to the years before the pandemic. "Sales are definitely better than last year, but we have seen better days", says Paudyal. "I personally do not see youngsters taking tradition and culture seriously. Apart from the pandemic, I consider this too as a reason for decline in sales", he adds.
Shanta Ghimire, a street vendor selling Dhaka topis shares a similar experience. "I used to sell most of the Dhaka topis in my stock before the pandemic. It's almost the opposite this year", she says.
Prices of Dhaka topis range from Rs 150 to Rs 5000 per topi depending upon the quality of the fabric. "Our best sellers during Tihar cost about Rs 300 to Rs 600", Paudyal says. The price of Dhaka topis do not surge during festivals, the peak selling time. However, it might increase a little after Tihar. "We might have to do so to cover up for the slow business this year", he explains.
The lockdowns affected Dhaka business as much as any other business. Factories couldn't work efficiently causing problems in production. "Dhaka fabric and topi requires manpower. We did manage to keep production going by following the covid protocols but we couldn't run in a full-fledged manner", Paudyal says.
Paudyal's showroom mostly consists of Dhaka topis and fabric from Palpa. Palpa is famous for its Dhaka fabric and topis. "Our products are made up of authentic handmade Dhaka fabric from Palpa. Providing people with traditionally made Dhaka is our priority", he says. "Only a couple of pieces in my showroom are from Terhathum", he says.