Delhi’s firecracker shops get crackling

October 23rd, 2011 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) Tucked away in the bylanes of the walled city, seasonal firecracker shops have suddenly sprung to life, with the number of Diwali shoppers swelling substantially despite highly priced products.

While the number of bulk sellers who operate around the year is limited, popular wholesale Delhi markets like Sadar Bazar and Jama Masjid are dominated by temporary shops and kiosks selling crackers, diyas and fancy lights, eager to cash in on the festivities during this time.

“The crowd is overwhelming this year and the majority of customers do not mind the price. We are expecting greater sales over the weekend,” Ujjwal Jain of New Novelty Fireworks in Sadar Bazar told IANS.

“A wide variety of quality products is available this year which is attracting crowds,” added Jain as he attended to the deluge of customers at his shop.

In fact, many shopkeepers refused to talk to this correspondent or were available only after waiting for around half an hour as they bargained with shoppers. The city is gearing up to celebrate Diwali, one of India’s biggest festivals, Wednesday.

Colourful sky-shots, anaars, phuljaris and chakris are the hot-selling firecrackers this year.

Displaying their selling skills, the shopkeepers are even offering an early bird discount.

“A sky-shot with 500 different coloured sparklers, priced at Rs.15,000, is available for Rs.12,000 and a lari consisting of 15,000 crackers is yours at a discounted price of Rs.3,000. But that is if you buy before Sunday,” said Anil Gupta of Capital Crackers in Sadar Bazar.

But some shopkeepers begged to differ with their counterparts and claimed that the sales have been slow this year because of the heavy monsoon rains in the cracker hub of the country — Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.

“Many of the crackers were spoilt by the moisture; so the price of the remaining escalated automatically,” said Umesh Kumar of Ajit Fireworks in Jama Masjid.

“Sales have been slow this year due to high prices, but we are expecting the scenario to improve on the weekend,” he added.

Shopkeepers this year have another reason to celebrate — with India winning the cricket World Cup earlier this year, last year’s leftovers were cleared and fresh stocks were ordered, which rarely happens otherwise.

“The costs have spiked by 25 percent this year and obviously this has been passed on to the customers,” said Jeetu Pandit of Umesh Fireworks in Jama Masjid.

But price is not a deterrent for enthusiastic Delhiites.

“The crackers are expensive but that will not deter us from celebrating the festival. Although we may buy less, surely nobody likes a silent Diwali,” said Anshuman Kapoor, a Delhi University student who bought crackers worth Rs.3,000.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at rahul.v@ians.in)

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