Singh Bahadur Barahi

Dec 12, 2017 |

Text: Soyana Nyachhyon        Photo: Pradip Tuladhar

Pioneering in the wood industry, Singh Bahadur Barahi has 50 years of experience and history in establishing his business in the growing Nepali market. Born to a cultured Newari family, his father Harkha Bahadur Barahi and mother Kharga Laxmi Barahi, has always motived him to keep the Barahi heritage running and alive. He is a man of his words; he says “great things are not done by inclination, but by a series of small things brought together.” After years of devoting his life to the handicraft business, he got married to Mohan Devi with three children. As the aspiring generation of the Barahi family, his two sons Raju, Rajesh and his daughter Muna are helping with his established industry today.

Before getting involved in handicraft business, he started off as a solo entrepreneur which was his toughest time, where he saw absolutely no sales. However, thanks to his father and his self- devotion to keep his inheritant timber work alive, he started out fresh without losing hope. “Success is focusing on the full power of your burning passion to achieve” says Mr.Barahi. He never let his urge for wood carving into rest. He impressively promoted his lust with the same amount of hard work to establish his own name. He says “I don’t really want to talk more about my kaleidoscope of memories which are filled
with many hardship and struggles”.

Slowly but impressively, he was able to achieve fame for his passion. He recalls the days when he had to travel Kathmandu and sell his goods but people had doubt on his work and didn’t even appreciate. One of his biggest achievements was when the owner of Radisson Chain Hotel himself got impressed of his previous works and offered him to showcase what he could do as a craftsman. God gifted as we may say, he truly has talent to accomplish what he aspires to. He then completed the project handed by Radisson hotel in about 3-year with his own creative skill and hand work.

Even though he had been struggling his way up from Rana Regime, he has never given up just because of age factor. He always believed on doing the best to provide satisfaction to customers. Not only in Nepal, has his work been acknowledged but also in many different countries as well. He recalls the time when the daughter of Late King Birendra, Princess Shruti visited his small home, with the artist himself to get the artwork framed. “Because the law was everything at that time, I couldn’t even ask for a photo to keep as memory”, he exclaims. He never thought the passion for timber framing as a money-oriented endeavor. His mind would always circulate in further developing his products.

Reaching here wasn’t as easy as he thought, for more than 7 years he worked alone, crafted his own designs with whatever materials he could find. Mr. Barahi recalls lengthy working hours from 6am to 11pm every day of the first 7 years of establishment. He accounts his constant hard work and ethical work habits that helped him sustain his business till this day. At that time he had a hard time working with limited machinery that included hours of hard work and focus. Now that he has established his own domain, he still struggles to employee people as many are moving abroad to fulfill their dreams. He believes that even females are equally hardworking if they have passion within themselves. “Political instability has also been one of the problems which affect the business”, says Mr. Barahi.

Historically speaking, the development of Nepalese handicraft industry is very old although it has its own rise and fall. In Nepal, the development of handicrafts has brought harmony with changing trends. The Barahi caste of Newars has been known to be inheritants of timber work. Newari history accounts that during important festivals like Rato Macchindranath, the selection of timber, construction and fabrication of chariot have always been allocated to the Barahis’ for their expertise in timber.

After decades of establishment, they moved to ‘Patan Industrial Estate’ where his showroom Lalitpur Kalatmack Kastha Udyog and his factory are currently located there. In the period of establishing his own team, he spent a lot of time training his co- workers, so that his skill and knowledge gets transferred. During the crucial time of product development, his self-dependent nature led him to research and experiment. He welcomes the new machinery and technology as it is important to completely indulge yourself in the craft, as well as what comes with it.

At the moment, his sons are handling his handiwork business with the proper guidance from their father. But the thing Mr. Barahi is afraid about is that the passion and hard work will vanish among the young generation. As a supportive father, he constantly nudges his sons to keep their business running. He says, ”While people get impressed with my showroom, not many people are aware of the amount of time, energy and dedication it took me to establish what is in front of them. I still believe in affirmative criticism, it is my Guru.”

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