Impoverished families in Sarlahi depend on hay to combat the coldThe westerly wind and the cold wave have adversely affected impoverished settlements in the district.
For 45-year-old Sevatiya Malli, letting a cluster of hay to dry in the sun has become her routine these days. With the winter deepening, Malli’s family has been using hay for bedding to insulate the sleeping area in their home. But after a night’s use, the hay gets damp and has to be dried in the sun before it is re-used.
Many marginalised Musahar families like Malli’s are not financially secure to be able to prepare for the winter so they make blankets out of the most easily available resource—hay. “To beat this year’s cold we have devised a trick, to store the hay in jute sacs and use it for blankets and bedding.”
Every year, the winter, and the westerly wind and cold wave that it brings, adversely affects the most impoverished settlements in Sarlahi, like the Musahar and Dom communities. As in previous years, the most worrying aspect of winter for these people is the lack of warm clothes and shelter. So like last winter, this year too they are relying on hay beds to stave off the cold off, as their bamboo-fenced houses do not do much to keep the howling cold wind out, according to Malli.
“While we somehow see through December-January first week, the cold wave and westerly wind will get harder when January comes to a close,” said Malli, whose family lives in a small hut made in a public space by the Lakhandehi River. “The cold has increased surprisingly in the past couple of days. Our only remedy for the cold is hay.”
Last year a few organisations had distributed blankets but for a lack of space to keep them, they have been damaged by mice, Pushani Devi Majhi, another local, said. “We can’t buy proper clothing and don’t have a house that resists cold,” she said. “For the time being, we need to make the best use of hay.”