Marsi chamal: Demand for this ‘political metaphor’ skyrockets in Kathmandu market

Kathmandu, July 25

Until few weeks back, the number of Kathmanduites to have known marsi chamal, a type of rice cultivated in highlands of Karnalil Province in Nepal in particular, was very small. Now, it has been one of the most sought-after thing in big groceries of Kathmandu, thanks to recent political discussions.

Marsi chamal today has been a symbol of aristocracy as it is expensive and consumed by the rich though it is cultivated in Karnali, the poorest part of the country. It came to the limelight after controversial medical college operator Durga Prasain offered the marsi chamal delicacy to KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal while they were preparing to merge their parties.

Prasain is struggling to get his medical college recognised by a university and medical education reform activist Dr Govinda KC and his supporters have been protesting it citing the college does not have sufficient infrastructure. They have been accusing the current government and ruling Nepal Communist Party of trying to grant the affiliation to Prasain just because he fed them marsi chamal’s delicacy.

File: UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal during a lunch meeting, in Kathmandu, on Sunday, February 18, 2018. Durga Prasain had hosted the lunch.

As protesters used this metaphor to attack Oli, Dahal and the government, members of the general public, on the other hand, have developed a natural curiosity on what it is, hence the demand has surged, according to grocers.

One of the most popular supermarkets of the city, Bhat-Bhateni Supermarket, says it is importing 10 tone marsi chamal from Jumla within a couple of days.

“We could not afford ignoring demands of our regular customers,” the store’s Pushpa Thapa comments.

Big Mart, another chain grocer in Kathmandu, says it had been selling marsi chamal for last few months; but its demand has significantly increased since last month.

The store’s Purchase Manager Milan Budhathoki says, “Earlier, those conscious of health hazards would buy it. But, everyone is buying a kilo or two these days.”

A kilogram of marsi chamal costs above Rs 200 in Kathmandu.

Published on July 25th, Wednesday, 2018 11:19 AM

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