THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the afternoon sun bore down, R Sasi sat happily in one of the alleys of Chalai. On other days, his corner doesn’t attract much attention, but in the run-up to Onam, he is an important man. He sells banana leaves, one of the integral elements of Onam feast. There are two sets of banana leaves, one priced at Rs 5 and the bigger one priced at Rs 10, says Sasi.
The market is buzzing and A Rajan, a resident of Kowdiar, asks for 20 sets of banana leaves. Soon after the banana leaves are packed and handed over, a preoccupied Rajan takes leave, while Sasi calls after him to complete the payment. There is frenzied excitement in the city, with Onam just a day away.
Rajan says that his Onam shopping had been completed and the only remaining article was the banana leaves, which he bought ahead of the Uthradapachil. “We completed our shopping ahead to avoid the heavy rush. And now with the banana leaves, everything has been taken care of,” says Rajan, while paying Sasi.
All roads now lead to Chalai market in the city, the hub of frenzied excitement. Ahead of Onam festivities, major thoroughfares in the city remain in a state of perpetual snarl, with people swarming the streets to shop. The market rates for bananas and vegetables have spiked, but that doesn’t put any damper on the turnout of people. The city has already shifted to a festive mood and is prepared for the famed ‘Uthradapachil’ on Tuesday.
The Chalai market and East Fort region are bursting at their seams with people and the shops stocked up with the Onam paraphernalia. Radha V, a resident of Vattiyoorkavu who had arrived with her daughter Archana to do some Onam shopping ahead of the Uthradapachil had to return with just a few items. “It was a huge rush. I came today so we can get all the necessary items, but the shops are packed. We might have to finish the shopping from the nearby store back home,” says a dismayed Radha.
Despite the perceptible rush, shopkeepers complain of an Onam season which is not seeing much business. “Compared to the past, people are not turning up in huge numbers. It may be financial crunch or they may be opting for other big stores,” says Srikumar G, a vendor at Chalai.
Cutting a contrast to the excitement at Chalai, the Palayam market is just waking up. Although the shops have stocked up supplies to cater to the Onam demand, the mad rush which used to be there is not there anymore, according to the vendors who have been selling grocery for the past few years.
“Earlier, there used to be just a few markets and people would come from far and wide to stock up for the festivities. Now it has all changed, with the mushrooming of small shops and huge marts. So the market has been affected,” says C Ravindran Nair of Chalai market who set up shop back in the 1960s.
The prices of banana, ginger and vegetables required for major curries in ‘sadya’ have seen a spike. One kilogram of ginger is sold at Rs 200 while the price of bananas has also skyrocketed. While the nendran sells at Rs 70 a kilo, the rasakadali sells at Rs 100. “Post Thiruvonam, the rates will fall and will be normal,” says Ravindran.
Set for uthradapachil
All roads now lead to the Chalai market in the city, the hub of frenzied excitement. Ahead of Onam festivities, major thoroughfares in the city remain in a state of perpetual snarl, with people swarming the streets
The prices of banana, ginger and vegetables required for major curries in ‘sadya’ have seen a spike. But that doesn’t put any damper on the turnout of people. Post Thiruvonam the rates will fall and be normal