By Shiva Shankar Mishra, Bara, Dec. 31: With the decline in the use of different kinds of Ghonsar, a traditional earthen pot used to make puffed rice, the availability of tasty puffed rice in the Terai region has been decreasing.
Puffed rice made in Ghonsar used to be the first choice of many people. In today's era, although the modern mills have replaced Ghonsar, puffed rice manufactured in the mills cannot beat the authentic taste of puffed rice fried in Ghonsar.
Bhikhari Sah, 63, of Laxmanwa Tole in Birgunj Metropolitan City-15, said that he was compelled to operate Ghonsar at an old age after both of his sons died young.
Bhikhari said that his family, which includes his wife, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren, were living off the 5-6 kilograms of rice earned by making puffed rice at Laxmanwa Tole, which lies at the border of Bara and Parsa District.
Previously, one Ghonsar used to exist in each village where the villagers used to visit to make puffed rice from the grains of their own choice. But these days, the Ghonsars are on the verge of extinction.
"The Ghonsars are in operation in 4-5 places of the district- in Prasauni of Parsa, Nakatuwa, Nagawa, Inarwa, and Pokhariya among others by lighting a fire on straws and chaff," said Bhikhari.
Likewise, Radhika Devi, 72, of Prasauni Rural Municipality-5, who has also been running a Ghonsar for her living, said that the Ghonsar was in operation only in Kalyanpur Tole of Swan Rural Municipality in Bara, Uchidiha in Simrongadh Municipality and in Kalaiya.
Mostly women used to visit the Ghonsar to fry various grains including rice, corn, soybeans, beaten rice, and so forth. Ghonsar used to be placed afar from settlement areas where a big hole is dug to place three earthen pots (Khapadis) and heat the mud to fry grains.
Puffed rice is prepared after the grains were fried by heating the mud.
Radhika said that her four family members were sustaining on the income earned by operating Ghonsar.
The Ghonsariyas used to receive some cash and some portion of the grains brought to fry in the Ghonsar as the charge for frying.
Godh, Bhat, Bhujawa, Baniya, Kanu, Bhansariya, and other low-income castes used to operate Ghonsar for a living.
Banarasi Godh of Mahagadhimai Municipality-10 said, "Increment in other employment opportunities including foreign employment, availability of readymade puffed rice, the establishment of mills had reduced the obtainability of Ghonsar."
Punam Devi, who had visited the Ghonsar to fry rice, said that it was essential to protect Ghonsars to give continuity to the tradition.