Jan 5, 2018:The traditional occupation of the Bote community in the area, that of transporting people and goods across the Kaligandaki river for a certain fee, is now in crisis.
This situation has come as more and more bridges are constructed at the Ghats (harbour for boats on the river bank) where the Botes plied their boats to earn a living.
Transportation of goods and people by boats operated by the Bote people from dawn to dusk at various Ghats lining the Kaligandaki river, which was a common feature until two decades back, has now become a thing of the past.
However, the Botes have been displaced from their traditional trade after bridges and suspension bridges were constructed at these Ghats.
Nara Bahadur Bote, 80, of local Botegaun, Rampur Municipality-3, operated boat at Keladighat for a good 35 years. Now, he is displaced from his job after the construction of a suspension bridge at the ghat. He is sad that his livelihood has been snatched away.
“It is the identity and the means of earning of the Bote people. Now it’s gone,” he lamented.
Bishnu Bahadur Bote, 72, from the locality, who also operated boat at the same ghat as Nara Bahadur, is another Bote who was displaced from his traditional occupation.
“Two boats were operated at Keladighat. We used to be very busy all day long taking people and their goods from one side of the river to the other. We enjoyed our job serving the travelers,” he said. He said they used to ferry as many as 300 people across the river daily.
Sixty-two years old Buddha Bahadur Bote is now engaged in agriculture after being displaced from the traditional profession of earning a living by operating boat. He operated boat at various ghats on the Kaligandaki for 15 years.
“The work I had been doing has been taken away. I have to support my family. I am now involved in agriculture. But the earning is not sufficient,” he said.
Khim Bahadur Bote went to work as a labourer in a foreign country after the Botes’ traditional occupation was displaced. He worked in a Gulf country for 15 years. “Operating the boat is the only craft I know. Our traditional profession got displaced and I had to go the Gulf country for a long time for an earning. There was no other option,” he shared.
Another Bote, Krishna Bahadur Bote, an adept boatman, is now an agricultural labourer at his village. There are 36 Bote households in the village.