| Customers at a relatively empty brass utensil shop at New Market on Sunday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Two months of Bhadon in the Hindi calendar this year prevented first-time devotees from embarking on their Chhath journey, leaving traders dealing in brass utensils, bamboo soops and daura high and dry.
According to the Hindu calendar, this year has two months of Bhadon and is considered inauspicious for starting new rituals. As a result, hardly anybody new joined the Chhath rituals this year and the demand for brass utensils — having a shelf life of at least 10 years and bought mostly by new devotees during the festival — dipped.
“Half the brass utensils will remain unsold this year. I bought 150kg brass utensils (soop, pot) but almost half of that is unsold. The previous year I sold more than 120kg of utensils,” said Mohammed Anwar Imam, a utensil seller at New Market.
Jawahar Prasad, who has been selling brass utensils for almost 25 years, said: “This year I have sold only four-five brass soops, against almost 50 last year. Apart from the Malmas factor, the sharp price rise of brass utensils has contributed to the drop in sales.”
Tribhuwannath Mishra, a Sanskrit scholar and a retired schoolteacher, said: “Malmas is an extra lunar month according to the Hindu calendar. It occurs once in three years and is considered inauspicious for Shiva worship or stating new rituals.”
“In Sanskrit mal means impure and mas means month. With the beginning of the new year, devotees can take part in new festivals,” he added.