Bardiya’s Tharu women embrace traditional fishing culture to beat the heat (photo essay)

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The women of Bardiya’s Tharu community have a distinctive way of spending their afternoons during the scorching summers when temperatures can reach up to 40°C. After completing their household chores and feeding their families, at around noon, the women of the community gather in groups and make their way towards the nearby ponds, a few kilometers away from their village.

Armed with their hand-woven fishing nets, also known as Helka, the women enter the cool waters of the pond, patiently waiting for their catch. While waiting, they engage in lively conversations and socialize with each other, creating a sense of community and companionship that is vital for their overall well-being.

The activity not only helps the women escape the heat but also fulfills their need for social interaction. As they return home in the evening, they are physically refreshed and socially healthy, with a fresh catch of fish to prepare for dinner.

The tradition of Helka fishing has a deep cultural significance for the Tharu community in Bardiya. It represents their close relationship with nature and the importance of sustainable living. Moreover, it also serves as a beautiful example of how a simple activity can fulfill multiple needs, including physical refreshment, social interaction, and cultural preservation.

Simon Paudel is an anthropologist and a travel photographer who serves as a staff member for DCNepal news. He shares his photographs and cultural experiences on his Instagram page: Anthro_Photos

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