Christmas is the peak season for the handicraft and singing bowl industry in Nepal and the preparations for the season begin from mid-August itself. However, the industry took a big hit this season as a dengue epidemic swept through the entire country. Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that is transmitted after a mosquito bites an infected person and transfers it to another healthy person. It has flu-like symptoms and can turn complicated, dangerous and life-threatening too if not diagnosed in time.
Over 8,000 dengue cases were reported until the second week of September and 6 people died due to various complications developed by the onset of the infection. There has been widespread fear of the disease as the disease has managed to reach even the higher mountainous areas where it is generally not found.
The virus spreads with the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The disease in itself doesn’t have its own symptoms but rather patients and affected people exhibit other signs such as high fever, severe headache, pain around the eyes, joints and back and others.
On a ground level, the disease also affected many of our artisans and workers as the factory’s environment proved to be suitable breeding grounds for the mosquitoes. Many workers and artisans were affected by the disease. In fact, due to the nature of the disease when one worker in a factory was infected, it was followed by many others getting infected by the disease too. This greatly affected the production process as many workers were on sick leave right at the peak production period. This has made things very tight this season as the pressure has come upon the remaining few healthy artisans to fulfilling the soaring demand. Also, Nepal’s, widely celebrated Dashain festival is coming soon and as the festival dates comes close many workers from outside the capital city are already heading home making it even more difficult for the remaining workers in the factory.
There is panic in the air as the fear of Dengue has people on the tip of toes and this is even more true for our artisans who have had their fellow colleagues in the factory fall ill. With fear in their hearts and a possible threat of getting infected, the workers continue to work hard despite the mounting pressure. However, this is clearly affecting the production of singing bowls in Nepal as the entire process itself seems to have slowed down. Let’s hope for a quicker recovery and elimination of the disease.