Recently, US Ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, visited Janakpurdham, the interim capital of province-2, Nepal. During his visit, the US envoy enjoyed the famous and delicious lassi, along with paan and even a rickshaw ride. The ambassador, in fact, enthusiastically expressed about his Janakpur visit and lassi experience in his tweet, “I finally got a chance to enjoy famous Janakpuria Lassi and paan. Trust me, they were one of the best I ever had! And the local Rickshaw ride was unforgettable experience, too! #VisitNepal2020”.
Ambassador Randy’s tweet appreciating the local delicacy explicitly conveys that the taste of lassi isn’t limited to a particular palate. Moreover, his tweet has surely boosted the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, with Janakpur as the highlight. Even in Kathmandu, ‘Janakpuriya Lassi’ has gained immense popularity. Today, several vendors are selling the beverage in Kathmandu with a claim to have ‘original’ taste, but they rarely do.
Lassi, probably one of the most loved and preferred beverages during summer, is basically made with yogurt. Lassi, a blend of yogurt, water and spices or sweeteners (resins, khuwa, almonds and cherries), is the ultimate summer refresher. Lassi is a versatile drink that comes in innumerable varieties such as sweet lassi, salty lassi, mango lassi and bhang (marijuana) infused lassi, which is mostly made during the Holi festival. Lassi is also a great way to stay hydrated during scorching summer days. Similarly, from health perspective, lassi aids digestion as yogurt contains lactobacillus bacteria that lubricates the intestine, breaks down the food, absorbs nutrients and helps in smooth digestion. Lassi also contains healthy bacteria that help keep away the bad bacteria and prevents stomach bloats. Moreover, it has Vitamin D and lactic acid, which help to improve immunity and maintain youthful skin.
One can also begin a lassi start-up with a small capital of around two to three lakh rupees, and the business has low risk as well as high profit potential. As summers tend to linger longer in the Tarai regions of Nepal, lassi business will earn good revenue for at least about nine months a year. Lassi vendors in Janakpur sell thousands of glasses of this decadent drink each day during summers. Indeed, lassi business could do wonders if an amicable ambit is created. According to a local lassi vendor in Janakpur, festivals like Dashain, Chhat, Bibaha Panchami attract an increased number of lassi enthusiasts to his stall. During festivals, the demand for lassi shoots up and revenue is doubled as compared to normal days.
Many tourists who visit Janakpur during off-season are oblivious of the lip-smacking lassi that is easily available in the area. Visitors also usually have little information about famous local lassi vendors and don’t know where to go for a chilled glass. The lack of promotion has resulted a slump in revenue for lassi businesspersons. Selling lassi in not merely a business, it rather represents geographical and cultural identity of Janakpur, and people have an emotional attachment with the drink.
The provincial as well as local governments and business forums in Janakpur should endorse and encourage lassi business for the promotion of tourism, culture and economic development. After all, lassi has a global impact with people across the world already enjoying the beverage in its various forms. Moreover, social media users should promote lassi from their respective platforms. Even the bigger hotels and restaurants of Janakpur can advertise lassi as their special and serve it as a complimentary drink. The government could also paste promotional pamphlets with photos of delicious ‘Janakpuria Lassi’ at Tribhuwan International Airport as well as the domestic airport in Janakpur. Every flight to Janakpur should provide a pamphlet of Janakpuria Lassi to the travelers.
(Nayak is a resident of Janakpur and is currently pursuing 3rd year in BA LLB at National Law School of India University, Bangalore)