Nagaland women opt for heavenly intervention to fight COVID-19 and sagging business
Enterprising Naga women agrees that coronavirus has impacted their and there is significant drop in sale of Naga traditional garments. Apart from social distancing and other good practices, they are also resorting to prayers to drive away ill-affects of the virus.
Chumukedima (Nagaland) Naga women entrepreneurs are facing the brunt of the COVID-19 as business has nosedived in this northeastern state following the scare related to the pandemic. Most business and small retail shops and outlets with running business in state's commercial town Dimapur and adjoining areas of Chumukedima are run by women. But as the economic gloom has surfaced in these towns following the coronavirus scare, most shops are recording huge loss for weeks.
"It has more to do with fear psychosis. Precautions are good but the way people have decided to stay away from shops has hurt our business interests," says Amenla Jamir, an enterprising Naga woman doing business with mobile phones and other accessories. She explains March-Apri is peak time for sale of mobile phone sets and related accessories as exams are over and new academic session is set to get underway in April.
New generation shoppers generally get into lot of buying spree during this season and they do the window shopping mostly while moving around with friends and comapanions. However, social distancing as advised to deal with COVID-19 has kept the youngsters indoors and hence the drop in sales.
Gorkha Christian leader Savitri Mallha who fasted and prayed for relief from coronavirus
Another enterprising woman - a Gorkha - Maya Chhetri - agrees largely that coronavirus has impacted the business in Chumukedima and also in state capital Kohima. She says even there is significant drop in sale of Naga traditional garments- shawls and jackets and other items. But, Ms Chhetri's diagnosis of the problem has another front. She says, "Besides COVID-19, there is another factor that has affected the retail as well as wholesale business. A large number of shoppers have gone online and people also find it economical and packaged with lot of discounts and special offers".
According to Ms Chhetri, online shopping is maximun with younger generation as they are also IT savvy in Dimapur and other places in Nagaland. But taking both coronavirus and also increase in online shopping as challenges and part of reality, women are resorting to alternative planning.
One of those strategies in 'God fearing' Nagaland state is religiosity and prayer. Savitri Mallha, a Christian Gorkha lady and associated with Chumukedima Nepali Baptist Church, told Organiser that "Keeping in view these challenges, a large number of Gorkha women Christian devotees held a day long fasting and a special prayer on Wednesday".
"Fasting is a long process and there were special prayers by about 50 women members of the Nepali Church and others," says Ms Mallha adding "we prayed for global peace and prosperity and also for a better world that is bereft of diseases like coronavirus".
N R Upadhyay, priest of Nepali mandir where Naga women come and pray to scare away evil affects of coronavirus.
Gorkha women and also Naga enterprising men and women used to get raw materials from China for garment items because it all made business sense. Of course, at times thigs used to smuggled into Nagaland and other neighbouring states from China -- either via Myanmar or some independent 'routes'. But with the outbreak of COVID-19 and precautions being taken at every stage, obviously business has dropped and thus the hope is on heavenly powers.
Gorkha Hindu women and others are also resorting to prayers to scare away any evil affects of coronavirus. Therefore, according to N R Upadhyay, Chief Panditji at Chumukedima Police Mandir, similar prayers and Puja was conducted in the temple on Tuesday.