Sugar toys for sale near Mahavir Chowk in Ranchi on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
Edible sugar toys and clay playthings, traditionally used by children to deck up gharondas, have ceased to be Diwali must-haves, losing out to fancier sweets and decorative items flooding the market.
A handful number of potters have unveiled their ware of cute clay and sugar toys shaped after animals and birds and available in bright hues of red, green, yellow, orange and pink at Ranchi’s Kutchery Chowk, but sadly, they have failed to stir the imagination of little ones. The potters, who had hoped that business would at least pick up on the eve of Diwali but were left disappointed, blamed the parents for not keeping tradition alive.
“Log purani parampara ko bhul rahen hain (People are forgetting old tradition). Nowadays, no one wants to buy the clay and sweet toys without which Diwali was once incomplete. Instead, the children are demanding fancier toys and decorative sweets and parents are indulging them. We sold just half kg of edible sugar toys since morning,” rued Deepak Sahu, who has set up a makeshift shop at Kutchery Chowk.
He added that he made five quintal of sugar toys, costing Rs 120 per kg. “We started making these sugar toys four days ago but our effort turned out to be futile,” Sahu said.
Nearly 20 such makeshift kiosks have sprung up at Kutchery Chowk, selling sugar toys, while another 20 have clay toys on offer. None is happy with the sales figure.
“These sugar toys are supposed to be the main attraction during Diwali. But to our surprise, hardly any children visited our shops this year,” Rajkumar, a potter, added.
Such is the scenario that some potters even lowered the prices of sugar toys from Rs 120 per kg to Rs 80 and clay toys from Rs 10 a piece to Rs 3 to lure customers.
Gharonda is a cardboard house that a sister gifts her brother during the festival of lights to bring him luck and wealth. Young girls decorate the small cardboard houses with diyas and stuff them with sweets, rice and vermilion and present them to their brothers.
Asked why they were giving traditional toys a miss during Diwali, homemaker Punita Kumari reasoned: “These sweets are sold uncovered, inviting flies and germs. They are not hygienic and so we don’t want to take any risk.”
However, Punita admitted that children preferred expensive toys nowadays.