| Men work on kanwars in Sultanganj. Picture by Amit Kumar |
For Bibi Fatima, Id shopping can wait but not the service to kanwariyas.
The 36-year-old woman of Dilgouri in Sultanganj helps her husband, Mohammad Pappu Ansari (40), run a shop for the kanwariyas during month-long Shravani Mela near Sidhi Ghat.
On one hand, Ansari keeps roja (fasting) during Ramazan and on the other, he sells kanwar — bamboo stick used by kanwariyas to carry Ganga water on their shoulder during their 105km barefoot walk to Deoghar.
Ansari makes decorative kanwars with plastic items like small idols of Lord Shiv, snakes, trident, flowers and other items as per the requirement of the pilgrims.
On an average, he sells 500-550 kanwars daily and makes a turnover of not less than Rs 60,000-65,000 every day.
Fancy Kanwar, Tarakeshwari Kanwar, Deshla Kanwar and other varieties of kanwars cost anything between Rs 120 and Rs 250. “As per the desire of a pilgrim, we decorate the kanwar and charge accordingly. Besides, we also provide them with many other items like water containers, plastic bags, mobile covers, torch, garments, caps and other items required by the pilgrims during their journey to Deoghar,” said Mohammad Zafar, another shopkeeper.
Not only Ansari, more than 5,000 Muslims in Sultanganj remain busy throughout the month-long Shravani Mela in making kanwars and other items required for the kanwariya path — 105km road from Sultanganj to Deoghar.
“The month-long Shravani Mela too provides earning opportunity to the Muslims,” said Shivshanker Singh Parijat, former deputy director, public relations department.
Bibi Nafunisa (30), whose husband also operates a kanwar shop here, is satisfied with what they are doing for the pilgrims. “We are getting double benefits from God this time — keeping roja and service to the kanwariyas at the same time,” she said.
Mohammad Zabed, another shopkeeper, said most of them have the opportunity to enjoy hefty profits because of Shravani Mela before Id. “This month-long Mela provides us income opportunity and many of us wait eagerly for the festival,” he said.