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Steel city splurges on imported products

When a festival has global appeal, is it any wonder that its shopping list features items from across the world?

As Jamshedpur witnesses the hustle and bustle of Id-ul-Fitr shopping, customers thronging the 150-odd makeshift stalls, which have come up in front of mosques across the city, are found to indulge heavily in expensive and imported prayer caps, ittar and the like.

Stretchable prayer caps from Indonesia and embroidered ones from Bangladesh are a huge draw. The relatively cheap and locally made cotton and nylon caps this time are losing out to these two imported varieties.

Mufleh Usmani, proprietor of Maktaba-Al-Taba — a shop at Sakchi Jama Masjid — said stretchable prayer caps made of nylon and priced between Rs 30 and 100 apiece are in high demand along with the intricately embroidered cotton kofi caps from Bangladesh that are available for something between Rs 50 and Rs 200.

“These are more expensive than Indian ones. However, this year people are opting for overseas caps due to their better design. We are selling nearly 50 to 100 pieces a day whereas the sale of Indian caps have trickled down to 30 to 50 pieces,” said Usmani who has been in this trade for nearly a decade.

Abdul Samad, who has a kiosk near Sakchi Jama Masjid, said caps from Indonesia were stretchable and could fit any head with a better grip, while the ones from Bangladesh were popular for their rich look.

“Not only prayer caps, imported ittars too are giving tough competition to domestic ones. Those from Saudi Arabia are beating their Indian counterparts for their sweet and long-lasting fragrance. These are available for Rs 80-90, while Indian ones come for Rs 50,” he added.

However, desi rules in terms of festive edibles and kurtas.

Sewai lachhas from Calcutta, Varanasi and Lucknow are in high demand.

While those from Calcutta and Varanasi are priced at Rs 120 per kilo, the Lucknow sewai is slightly more expensive at Rs 150 per kg.

Apart from sewai, another item from Lucknow that has made its way into the hearts of Jamshedpur customers is the white cotton kurta-pyjama sets priced between Rs 450 and Rs 500.