This Diwali, markets gloomy as families hit by closure of mines

With the shadow of recession resulting from the closure of the state mining industry clearly visible over the preparations for the festival of lights – Diwali, the markets around the state are still hoping to do brisk business during the final two days before the festival. The state along with the rest of the country is all set to celebrate Diwali on November 13.

The city market as well as shops around the city are already stacked with all the necessary items, which form an integral part of Diwali shopping, ranging from pounded rice or ‘fov’ to colourful paper lanterns or ‘aakash kandils’ and from varieties of sweets to the latest trend apparels. However, the shopping frenzy usually associated with days preceding this festival is just missing.
With less than 48 hours left for the display and processions of large-sized effigies of the mythological demon Narkasur, which kick-starts the festival of Diwali, followed by Laxmi Puja and Bhaubeej, the shops around the state are ready to welcome the festive-time customers.  
Edibles as well as decorative things form main items on the Diwali shopping list, followed by clothes, jewellery and fireworks, not necessarily in that order. The pounded rice, locally known as ‘fov’ has flooded the markets, with the homemade variety costing between Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kg, while the white-coloured pounded rice priced at Rs 40 per kg. The prices of sweets on the other hand have been hiked, especially of those with dry fruits, which are placed above Rs 450 per kg.
Last year, the traditional aakash kandils made from paper were priced between Rs 180 and Rs 250 per piece, while the plastic ones cost between Rs 100 and Rs 450 depending on their sizes and designs. This year, the paper lanterns are priced at Rs 250 and above, while the plastic ones have also become a bit expensive. The oil lamps made from clay are priced between Rs 30 to Rs 200 per dozen depending on their fancy designs. The shops and showrooms selling readymade clothes, especially branded ones, have received new stocks with increased rates.
The decorative items available in the market range from attractive paper garlands to designer electrical lights, as also other paraphernalia for occasions like Laxmi Puja. The decorative items of Chinese make, including decorative lamps have also arrived in the market and are comparatively cheaper.
The literary tradition is kept alive in the midst of Diwali by special Diwali issues brought out by countless Marathi magazines. Most of the Marathi newspapers also have their own Diwali issues in the form of magazines and are priced up to Rs 200, with some of them even costing as much as Rs 350.
Jewellery and electronic items like refrigerators, television sets, washing machines, music systems and air-conditioners are also purchased during Diwali, as also two- and four-wheeler vehicles. Incidentally, many of the outlets selling these products have already announced attractive schemes including instalment facilities, discounts and prizes/gifts over their purchases.
The festival of Diwali always brings cheers to the life of a common man, helping him forget the day-to-day miseries. However, this year, many of the families directly or indirectly hit by the closure of mining activities are facing a problem in celebrating the festival itself, with their income severely affected. [NT]