Calcutta, Oct. 23: The Puja crowd on Friday morning shifted to sweet shops as Calcuttans went into a mishti-buying frenzy to celebrate Vijaya Dashami. Traditional sweet shops extended their hours and hired more hands to cope with the customer surge.
Metro criss-crossed the city, chasing the sweet craze.
Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick
What we saw: The newly-opened outlet on Prince Anwar Shah Road (not far from South City Mall) was full of customers, each vying for the attention of the men behind the counter. No wonder they decided to remain open till 11pm, instead of the usual 10pm.
"Usually, our outlet is refilled four times a day, but during the Pujas, including today, the refill count touched six," said an employee.
What we heard: Srabani Samanta flew away with sweets - sandesh - worthRs 2,350. She was headed back to Singapore tonight, armed with this Calcutta special.
"My colleagues back in Singapore have asked me to carry sandesh for them. I chose Balaram to buy the sweets," said Samanta, in town just for the Pujas.
The counter was never empty but the employees said the demand was more in the morning than in the afternoon. "The shop was so crowded in the morning that there was hardly a square inch of free space," an employee said.
Bestsellers: Baked Rosogolla, Mango Souffle, Ananda Anaras ( chhana with pineapple filling) and Strawberry Lava Sandesh (filled with strawberry syrup).
Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandy
What we saw: Some were kneading the chhana and mixing dry fruits, while others were cutting the mishtis into pieces.
Sweets were flying off the shelves and empty trays were being instantaneously refilled at the sandesh store on Ramdulal Sarkar Street, near Hedua in north Calcutta.
On the Puja days the shop opened at the usual hour but business went on till midnight, said Pranab Nandy, a partner of the shop, which usually closes at 10.30pm.
What we heard: Suparna Chatterjee, 47, had come from Belghoria to buy her Vijaya sweets. "I have grown up in adjacent Goabagan. Though I now stay far away from here, I never fail to visit the shop whenever I have to buy sweets for a special occasion. Coming here on Dashami is a must," Chatterjee said.
"During the Pujas, we almost have double the number of people working everyday," Nandy said.
Bestsellers: Several new varieties are on offer, such as Shada Singara (dry fruit filling within chhana-dry fruit cover ), Chocolate Singara (dry fruit filling within chhana-chocolate cover), Apple Sandesh and Gajar Sandesh.
What we saw: Special platters of assorted sweets - different varieties of sandesh - were in big demand. Individuals and organisations were taking away a steady stream of platters from the Esplanade outlet.
What we heard: "I could not even reach the counter because of the crowd in front," Aishwarya Basu, a Class V student of GD Birla Centre for Education. Her favourite KC Das pick is rosogolla .
Aishwarya was accompanied by her cousin Josmita Roy Chowdhury, uncle and aunt. "I love sweets, especially sandesh," said Josmita, a Class IV student of Modern High School for Girls.
"Production and sale of sweets went up three-o-five times during the Pujas," said KC Das director Dhiman Das.
Apart from the walk-in sale, there were many pre-orders. "There are several organisations and offices who place pre-orders with us. The delivery will continue for four-five days," said an employee of the shop.
Bestsellers: Trinayani (sweets dipped in syrup with ingredients like chocolate, saffron and strawberry, a Dashami speciality), Roso Malancha (malpoa with kheer stuffing), Rosogolla.
The demand for sweets far exceeded that for cakes and pastries, with many confectioners having a relatively light day on Friday.
At Kookie Jar in South City Mall, the demand had not peaked in the evening as anticipated. "Yesterday there were more people coming to buy but today the sale is not that high till now," said outlet manager Sailaj Biswas.
"Chocolate Pyramid and Chocolate Praline are some of the fast-selling products today," Biswas said.
At Flurys, however, the sale of pastries was more than on a weekend.
"People nowadays are not just buying sweets but also pastries during Vijaya Dashami and we have had to refill our stock in the evening," said Sharmistha Mukherjee of Flurys.