Bodhichitta biz booms amid rising demand

- Prahlad Rijal, Kathmandu

Jul 24, 2016-

Bodhichitta traders are witnessing a boom in business amid rising demand for the religious product, they have said.

Bodhichitta is a holy tree, and according to Buddhism, Lord Buddha received enlightenment under the same tree. Bodhichitta beads are threaded to make rosaries which are used to count chants (mantras).

The beads originating in Nepal are in high demand because they are considered to have high quality. “The demand for Bodhichitta has swelled substantially and so have the prices,” said Lapsang Lama, owner of Natural Budhha Chitta, manufacturer and exporter. “The market has grown by 25 percent and the annual revenue has increased from Rs20 million to Rs30 million this year.”

According to Lama, prices of the Bodhi beads differ depending on the size and quality. “A single tree can produce more than five different variants and the beads from a same tree are priced as high as Rs300,000 to a low of Rs5000 per unit.”

Moreover, Chinese online marketplace Alibaba has enlisted 15 prominent suppliers from Nepal who export Bodhichitta beads to major markets of Taiwan, China, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka and the US, among other countries, where Buddhism has flourished as a way of life. The beads, depending on the purpose, have been priced from $5 to as high as $4500 on alibaba.com. 

“Queries for our products have increased these days,” said Ashok Dhamala, owner of Eco Incorporation Group, a supplier whose shop has been listed on alibaba.com. “The online market presence is also expanding by the day and the future growth prospects of online trading of the beads are high.”

According to Dhamala, the annual export market is worth $10,000-12,000. “As more people are being aware about the international demand for Bodhi seeds, the market is likely to move towards saturation soon,” he said.

“Moreover, even exporters from China have set up offices in Thamel to transport the seeds to China. They are purchasing the seeds directly from farmers based in Timal, Kavre.”

According to traders, the rosaries are either used for meditation or decorating walls of monasteries and statues. The seeds, which are 7mm to 12mm in size, are sold as prayer beads, those larger than 15mm are used for decorative purposes.

The price of the Bodhichitta plant varies from one trader to another. Natural Budhha Chitta has priced one-year-old plant at Rs1,250 and six-month-old plant at Rs950.

Agromart Nepal, an agricultural product dealer, has been selling the plant at a flat rate of Rs500 per plant. The company has expanded its plantations in line with swelling demand. “We have planted an additional 5,000 plants as the market has gained pace lately,” said Lokendra Badu, operator of Agromart. “A single tree can produce seeds worth Rs200,000-400,000. And the tree lives for more than 200 years.” 

The Bodhichitta tree blooms in April and breeders harvest the seeds in August. 

Legend has it that the Shakyamuni, a sage of the Shakyas, left behind three plants in Lumbini, Namobudhha, and the Timal region of Kavreplanchok, but only the third in Timal survived. Another story tells of Padmasambhava, the lotus-born Guru Rinpoche, who promoted Buddhism in Tibet during 8th century, came to meditate in Kavre and left a tree behind.

But whether it was Shakyamuni or the Guru Rinpoche, the trees now have been planted widely and the business has swelled, with the farmers and exporters reaping profits in millions.

Nepali suppliers listed on alibaba.com

  •  Lord Budhha Himalayan Enterprise
  •  Asterisk International 
  •  Niklas International Cargo
  •  Mandala Craft
  •  Lumbini Handicraft
  •  Mala’s collection and Export 
  •  Eco Incorporation Group
  •  Le Moda Magasin Shop
  •  Samyak International

Published: 24-07-2016 12:05

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