The Telegraph
Tuesday , November 13 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Festive spirit beats price pinch

The capital sported a dazzling look on the eve of Diwali as citizens stocked up on their quota of diyas, Chinese rice bulbs, crackers, sweets, snacks and even packs of cards to bring the goddess of wealth home.

Crackers have got dearer by 15 to 20 per cent as compared to last year, but merrymakers refused to let steep prices play spoilsport with their plans. They appeared ready to compromise on the dazzle, but not on the festive mood.

“My father had set a budget of Rs 1,500 for me to buy crackers. But it was not sufficient to buy enough crackers this time. Earlier, I used to two packets of rockets. This time, I could manage only one. But that doesn’t mean there will be less fun this Diwali,” said Harsh Shrivastva, 14, a Boring Road resident.

Rajesh Rai, a wholesale cracker seller at Khajekala cracker market in Patna City, said: “The price of a piece of fancy aerial fireworks has shot up from Rs 500 last year to Rs 650 this year. Prices of bombs have gone up from Rs 100 a box to Rs 250. Overall, crackers have got dearer by 20 per cent, triggering a dip in demand. This market used to be chock-a-block at this time of the year but the situation is different this time.”

True, the mad rush was missing. But several revellers on Monday thronged the nearly 200 shops, including the makeshift stalls, at the wholesale firecracker market at Patna City, nestled between Paschim Darwaza and City Chowk. The shops offer a wide array of firecrackers that appeal to people of all age groups. Crackers, available in shapes of popular cartoon characters like Chhota Bheem and Doraemon, are a big hit among children.

“Kids mainly ask for toy crackers, aloo bomb, ground chakkars, bidi bombs and snake eggs,” said Suresh Singh, another cracker seller.

On the other hand, fancy aerial fireworks are the favourite among youths. “These fireworks light up the skies with myriad colours. Star War bursts 30 times in as many colours. Other popular ones are Star Night, Sky Line and Blue Chips, which sell for Rs 650 a piece,” said Ram Jatan, another cracker seller.

A host of revellers, meanwhile, is ready with card packs to play umpteen rounds of flash (teen patti) and rummy. “In our community, playing cards on the Diwali night is considered sacred. It ushers wealth and luck. We believe that Goddess Lakshmi blesses those who win money on Diwali. Mythology says Goddess Parvati played dice with Lord Shiva and said whosoever gambled on Diwali would prosper throughout the ensuing year,” said a businessman requesting anonymity.

“Playing cards helps us connect with friends and family after performing the puja. The party peaks after midnight and continues till 3am or 4am. Guests keep on joining the game over lip-smacking delicacies, drinks and gossip,” said a restaurant owner.