| A man prepares sunga pitha for the Bhogali Bihu and (right) a variety of rice cakes (pithas) on display at a local market on Wednesday. Telegraph pictures |
Jan. 9: Kitchens in the city are clinking with urgency and giving out an aroma that makes one impatient for Magh Bihu, a week away. The delicacies are just about ready.
The markets too are flooded with varieties of pitha-pona and rice products like sira (flattened rice), xurum and akhoi.
The demand for different types of fish, both local and those imported from Andhra Pradesh, Kanpur, Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Goa, have also started increasing.
The market price of all fishes is bound to increase on uruka (eve of Magh Bihu) and Magh Bihu. Wholesellers have warned customers that the retailers will increase market price of fishes during uruka and Magh Bihu, citing a shortage because of a growing demand during the festivities. This, however, is incorrect, as there is no shortage of fish in the market.
“We bring different varieties of fish from outside like ari, bhokua, hilsa, borali during Magh Bihu. Keeping in mind the huge demand for fish during this time we bring sufficient quantities for the customers. The price is also reasonable in the wholesale market. But the retailers take advantage of the situation and sell the fish they buy from us to the customers at a very high price. We have even approached the district administration and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation to regulate the activities of the retailers so that the common buyer is not duped, but have not received any response so far,” said Dhruba Deka, president of the Paltan Bazar Paikari Maas Besa Kina Samabai Samiti.
“The wholesale price of ari is Rs 300-400 a kg, the market price should be around Rs 500-600. But the retailers charge more than this. We sell bhokua fish weighing 8kg at Rs 180-220 and its retail price should be around Rs 230-300, but the retailers charge customers up to Rs 400 or more for the same. The wholesale rate of a hilsa weighing 700gm is Rs 300-400 and its retail price should be ideally Rs 600-700. But in places like Ganeshguri, the same fish is being sold to customers at Rs 900-1,000. The local variety of 1kg of sital, barali and ari will be sold at high rates by them,” said Deka.
Since Magh Bihu is a celebration of the abundance in nature at this time of the year, the festival involves feasting and merry-making with offerings before the Fire God early in the morning on Bihu.
Several pre-Bihu fairs are also taking place in different parts of the city where ready-made packaged til-pitha, tilor laroo, narikolor laroo, ghila pitha, tekeli pitha, hando, sticky rice and jaggery are being sold. People are already booking for pots of good quality cream and curd in different sweet shops for the occasion.
“I am selling til-pitha, tilor laroo, muri laroo, narikolor laroo and packaged sira for Bihu. While a packet of nine pithas costs about Rs 30, a packet of laroo costs Rs 25. A packet of sira costs Rs 25. Since these traditional items are now available in the market in ready-to-eat packaged forms, people prefer to buy than prepare at home,” said Anil Baishya, a shopkeeper selling edibles at Ganeshguri here.