The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Carnival theme to add fun to the golden hour

Scoop out gemstones from the sand-filled Jadoo Kadhai with a toy spade. Dredge out cash rewards from the Amrita Kumbha, the urn Lord Ganesha had showered with money, pleased with his artist devotee’s sincerity. Or get lucky at the bumper fetes. No matter what, take home a scrap of precious metal so that it stays with you and grows.

From being a low-key celebration, Dhanteras has gathered sheen to become a mega festival in Calcutta over the past few years, with thousands thronging jewellery showrooms to buy a piece of silver or gold during that “auspicious hour” and usher in the goddess of wealth. For the business, it translates into a welcome pre-wedding season high and city jewellers are cashing in to make hay while the bullion shines.

“Dhanteras is a worship of wealth, with the underlying mythology-inspired belief being that if you buy any precious metal during the propitious hour, it will remain with you and grow. However, over the past few years, with the burgeoning popularity of the festival in the city, it has become more of a commercial than an auspicious event,” says Ashis Biswas of A. Sirkar Jewellers.

The jewellery house on Rash Behari Avenue had “taken the lead” to make Dhanteras an event in the city way back in 1992 and others were quick to jump onto the gold train. “Yes, the Bhatters used to stay open till late, but we were the first to celebrate the festival thematically in our store by recreating a Rajasthani haveli-like ambience with the catch-line ‘buy gold at midnight’,” recounts Biswas.

Today, Dhanteras is aglitter with a plethora of themes, add-ons and legend, and a pot of gold at the end of the gems-strewn rainbow for all. “Like last year, we are recreating the fable of the Apsara and the Amrita Kumbha, featuring model Nicolette Bird as the Apsara and painter Samit Dey,” says Brinda Ganguly Sirkar of The Gold Factory. Customers purchasing jewellery worth Rs 1,000 and above at TGF can dip into the magic urn and take out cash rewards.

Subhashree Chowdhury, boutique manager of Tanishq’s Camac Street showroom, is gearing up for the footfall deluge expected on Wednesday and Thursday. “We logged sales of Rs 80 lakh last year, and hope to surpass that this time,” she smiles.

And the footfall-to-conversion ratio is extremely encouraging, maintain jewellers. “Almost everyone buys something or the other, and even though Dhanteras is essentially not a Bengali festival, they have picked up the trend from non-Bengali friends,” observes Chandrakanta Roy Chowdhury of M.P. Jewellers.

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