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Chinese goods flood Maha Shivratri fair

Sivasagar, Feb. 27: Goods from Communist China have flooded the stalls of the fair being held on the premises of the tallest Shiva temple in India, Shiva Doul, in Sivasagar town.

As thousands descended on the historic Upper Assam town for Maha Shivratri today, traders displayed flower vases, clothes, shoes and bags made in China at the four-day fair that is held annually.

Customers prefer Chinese goods because they are cheaper, the traders said.

“Last year, I sold locally made artificial flowers but most of them remained unsold as the Chinese products brought by other traders were cheaper,” said Moinul Ali, a trader from Nalbari. Ali brought his goods from a wholesaler in Guwahati. “Sale is better this year and I hope to make up for the loss incurred last year.”

Toy seller Mujibur Rahman of Nagaon also said business was good this year. “All the toys in my stall are Chinese. These products are not only cheaper but they are also more attractive and contain more features than the local ones,” he said.

However, some Indian products were able to attract the customers’ attention. Sanjay Dey, a trader from Tripura selling bamboo products, said he was getting a good response from visitors. “These handicrafts have been made in Tripura and sale is good owing to the good quality and low price,” he said.

The annual Shivratri fair here is one of the largest religious gatherings in the country.

This year, the Sivasagar Temple Development Board has installed more than 800 stalls next to the historic Shiva Doul.

For the traders, just getting a stall is a great accomplishment because they are allotted on lottery basis. “We sometimes have to buy the stalls at a premium and do not regret paying the extra stall rent as business is always good here,” a trader said.

Organisers claim that more than 1 lakh visitors throng Sivasagar on Shivratri.

“This year, at least 300 foreigners from Western countries have arrived and we are hopeful that their numbers will increase in the next two days,” said Ashwini Chetia, a member of the organising committee.