•      Tue Jul 23 2024

Aging ironsmith Padmalal worries over sustainability of his profession

Hetauda, Aug 26: In a small thatched hut at Bakaiya Rural Municipality-5 of Makawanpur district, a septuagenarian is found working actively from dawn to dusk.

He is Padmalal Bishwakarma, a 77-year-old ironsmith, who heats and beats pieces of iron in furnace, moulds these, and makes handy tools such as hammer, sickle, spade and knife.

He said he had been continuing with the profession his ancestors were involved, since he was 13-year-old. Padmalal not only moulds metal but also does maintenance- honing and edging the tools manually.

Now, the elderly is worried over his profession- it is facing a risk of extinction lately since there are no youths from his community taking interest in continuation of this job. None from his family of four is keen to pursue his ancestral skills either.

His growing old age is also the factor adding woes- he feels reduced energy to deliver.

Also, the development of technology and subsequent availability, spread and use of electric tools in farming and other household purposes is making ironwork redundant. The decreasing number of farmers in the village is equally a growing concern for him. The farmers were the ones with him he mostly dealt in iron works.

Padmalal uses wood coal to heat and melt the iron, and moulds them into different tools. The coal, these days, has become costlier and is not available easily. It is increasingly making him difficult to run his decades-long business, he shared the plight.

He could quit his current profession and adopt other at this age, he explained, adding he had no other skills at all. However, he vowed to continue the rigorous metal work even at low earning.

Importantly, Padmalal is for keeping on heating and beating the iron till his energy is fully sapped. According to him, his ancestors including his late father used to barter iron-made hand tools with food items such as rice and maize.

Money has already replaced the traditional mode of payment, shared Padmalal.

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