Patna, Dec. 2: Lhasa Market is back in town and so are the around 200 Tibetan salespersons who make the state capital their home in the winter months.
As usual, the residents have welcomed the Tibetan friends with open arms. The guests have been coming here since the 1970s from Shimla, Darjeeling, Mussoorie and even Mysore to sell their woollen garments.
Lahkpa, in her 40s now, has been coming to Patna in the winter since she was a child. “My father was in this business and now my daughter and son have also taken it up. We have always done brisk business in Patna. Earlier, our trade used to suffer as not many people visited us after dusk. But now, the situation has completely changed,” she said.
Lahkpa, who lives in a rented house every year during her stay in Patna, spoke of the bond she shares with the residents here.
“People here are really nice and friendly and they have always treated us as their family. Although we stay here for only four months in a rented house, we don’t feel this is not our place. We have developed a good bond with our landlords and neighbours over the years,” added Lahkpa.
Migma, Lahkpa’s daughter, can speak fluent Hindi. She attributes the ability to her friends in the state capital. She said: “Whatever Hindi I can speak is because of my friends here. They are my best friends and they have taught me the language. I love the local food too.” She added that her stay in Patna has influenced her lifestyle.
“We are a group of around 150-200 people, who stay in a close community in rented houses in Goriya Toli and Jamal Road area. Our landlords wait for us and all of them are very friendly. We have definitely developed a close bond with the residents,” said Rinzi, another shop owner who has been visiting Patna for the past 15 years.
Chime, the secretary of Tibetan Refugee Lhasa Market, Patna, is now 72 years old. He has been coming here since the 1970s. He said: “We are never treated as refugees here. In fact, the people wait for our arrival. We have many regular clients who have been buying clothes from us for a long time. They treat us as their guests and wait for us to bring the latest collection of the year for them.”
On the changing tastes of the residents, Chime said: “They have become more fashion conscious and always look for something new. While earlier we mostly used to get people from the middle and lower classes, now, even the upper class residents come to us looking for new styles. This is has resulted in good sale for us.”
The Tibetans’ visit to the state capital is spiritually enriching too. Chime said: “Patna is near to Bodhgaya, a holy place for us. Most of us are Buddhists and we often plan a pilgrimage during our stay here.”
As winter would come to a close in February, the Tibetans will return to their own cities. Rinzi said: “We return to other works like farming or business of readymade garments.”
Both the guests and the hosts will wait till next winter to meet again.