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Aago Official: Igniting conversations about culture

2022 May 06, 14:07, Kathmandu
Sarangi, one of the many designs from Aago Official Photo: Bidyash Dangol, NepalNews

Lighters from Aago Official are statement accessories to carry around that are bound to start conversations wherever you go. The intricate details crafted in these zippo lighters exquisitely represent your roots and highlight the richness of Nepali culture. On top of being a premium product, each lighter is unique and exclusive.

Two childhood friends, Pujan Shrestha and Saurav Joshi were born in families deeply rooted in their culture. As they started building their careers in media and advertising, they hadn’t given the handicrafts business a serious thought. It wasn't until they were stuck at home during the pandemic that they found themselves discussing ways to blend historic culture into the modern lifestyle.

Saurav Shrestha (left) and Pujan Shrestha (right)
Photo: Bidyash Dangol, NepalNews
Saurav Shrestha (left) and Pujan Shrestha (right) Photo: Bidyash Dangol, NepalNews

Despite growing up surrounded by rich culture and art, most Nepalis fail to appreciate its beauty and importance. The carvings, symbols, and intricate designs have lost their charm and value for many. The tiniest detail in traditional Nepali art holds significant value about which most of the younger generation remains aloof. With ever-growing westernization, the duo saw a need to start conversations about authentic Nepali epics and hieroglyphs.

“We spent a lot of time thinking about the perfect canvas to portray traditional Nepali culture until Zippo lighters finally came to mind”, says Saurav Joshi, co-founder of Aago Official. Zippo lighters in themselves are products that hold people’s interests. Moreover, it can last forever. “Zippo lighters were perfect for us because it was small enough to be carried around in our pockets but lasting enough to even be passed down generations”, says Pujan Shrestha, co-founder of Aago Official.

Unlike most businesses, it did not take much time for the duo to finalize a name for their brand. Aago, which translates to fire sums everything up. “What would be a more perfect name for a product that literally produces fire but also ignites a spark within people to understand and have conversations about our rich identity, history, and culture?”, they say. 

Photo: Bidyash Dangol, NepalNews
Photo: Bidyash Dangol, NepalNews

Joshi and Shrestha both come from families involved in the handicrafts business; mainly thangka art, statue making, and wood carvings. Hence, they were well aware of how things worked in the particular sector. At first, their families did not understand their vision but neither did they interfere. When the first few sample pieces were made, full-fledged support and guidance came from their families.

“Our families helped us find craftsmen for our business. Once they understood what we aimed to create, they fully supported it and also fed us ideas to make things better”, says Joshi. Even after being exposed to cultural significance in the making, Shrestha learned that there were many things yet to learn. “That is where our families have been a huge help too”, he says. He further adds, “Apart from suggesting ways to make our products more ethnic, they also teach us to be religiously and culturally correct”.

Finding ways to incorporate culture and traditional art into the modern world can be quite tricky, especially in cultures as rich as ours. It is extremely important to be respectful towards religion and culture, and not make any errors. As lighters ignite fire, the creators of Aago Original are careful to only include symbols and figures of deities and demons who represent the fire element. “Many people have requested personalized lighters with carvings of Gautam Buddha, Lord Krishna, and other gods. But that is not possible as they are peaceful deities”, says Shrestha. Joshi adds, “Our ethics help us remain respectful towards our religion and culture”.

Nepali society has many taboos and deeply rooted misconceptions about many things, including lighters. Most of the elder generations see lighters as a sign that the owner is a smoker, which adds to more judgment. The duo often faces judgment and criticism for adding cultural and religious representatives to something that is looked down upon. The two simply view the negative remarks about their product to be nothing but differences of opinion. “Everyday things such as clothing items, decorative pieces, etc. have religious significance. It only depends on how people use these products”, says Shrestha. Joshi stresses, “We are extremely careful to not disrespect anybody’s culture, belief or religion. Our only objective is to spread information and knowledge about our rich background”.

Aago Official’s collections of exclusive lighters are available to order through their social media pages. Their collection is also displayed at the Marriot Hotel, Kathmandu.

Contact Details

Aago Official

Phone no.: 9851122488

Facebook: Aago Official

Instagram: @aago.official


Aago Official statement accessories Nepali culture Unique Handicrafts Lifestyle traditional Nepali art Zippo lighters businesses culture wood carvings Religion taboos social media
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