Saturday Features

Bulaki

Aug 11, 2018-

The far-western region of Nepal is as fascinating as it is remote. As the roads get narrower and concrete gives way to traditional mud houses, simpler way of life starts to unfold in front of your eyes. The days here move at such a relaxed pace that you are compelled to soak in the sights, sounds and smells. But this, I suppose, happens whenever you travel to new places and meet new faces.  

What did leave me absolutely fascinated was a beautiful, golden ornament that most women in the region wear. Bulaki is a traditional ornament that women of the region wear on their nose.  Hanging from the septum right down to the upper lip, this ubiquitous ornament is taken up by the women from Limbu, Magar and Thami communities once they get married.

The size, shape and design may differ from person to person, based on their caste and finances. Sometimes they take the form of simple gold bands, others, intricately decorated with stones and gems, take a life of their own.

While we don’t often see these ornaments in regions that have been touched by urbanisation, Bulaki makes for a prominent identity of women across districts such as Accham, Bajura, Dailekh, and Doti. In some cultures, Bulaki is thought to help women attain mukti—liberation—after death and is hence placed inside the mouth of the deceased before last rites are performed.

In this photo series, I celebrate the diverse women for whom Bulaki is an important part of their identities.

Text and Photos: Rashik Maharjan

A shop-owner at Dhangadi. Women here cherish Bulaki while they can. They are aware that it’s an ornament on the verge of disappearing.

Hanging from the septum right down to the upper lip, this ubiquitous ornament is taken up by married women from Limbu, Magar and Thami communities.

Bajai was very shy to pose for a photograph. It was the ‘first time anybody wanted to photograph of her’.

The size and design of the Bulaki may differ from person to person, though deeply cherished eitherway.

Bulaki speaks volumes about women. It speaks as much of the vulnerability as it speaks of their strength.

Sita Devi (right) is a role model of her Village. She is an activist actively working against the Chhaupadi system and for girls’ education in Doti.

Bulaki stands for beauty and for grace. And it is  beleived that it makes way for liberation.

We met at her shop in Acchham. She was glad that someone wanted to do a story on the Bulaki, an ornament the women of her community hold so close to their hearts.

While we don’t often see these ornaments in regions that have been touched by urbanisation, Bulaki makes for a prominent identity of women across districts in the Far West.

Published: 11-08-2018 08:09

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