Diwali, the festival of lights, crackers and sweets is here. In Kochi, the melting pot of various cultures, Diwali is celebrated with much splendour, pomp and fervour.
The celebrations are already in full swing at Mattanchery and nearby areas where north Indians abound.
The shops in the city are all set to meet the increasing demand for crackers. The market is all flooded with sparkles (kambitiri), flower pot (poothiri), ‘chakra’, rocket, to crackers like dynamite, bullet bombs and ariel shells, that add spark and colour to the festive mood.
The prices vary from Rs 150 for a box of five rockets to Rs 40 for a box of 15 cm sparkles.
Crackers in new avatars
This season, the traditional crackers are being modified and given attractive names like ‘Dragon Wheels’ to catch the attention of customers. To lure in children who amount to a great per cent of customers, there are crackers in cartoons or evil characters.
New to the market is eco-friendly cracker which costs a little more than the usual ones. Such crackers do not emit smoke and light on burning.
However, there are not many buyers for such crackers as they do not give the ‘desired effect’. “Diwali is a festival of vibrant lights and sounds. Such crackers do not serve that purpose. Then what is the point of buying them?,” ask a customer.
To increase the sale, the manufactures have also launched gift packets which include a variety of crackers.
Shine Das, owner of Shaji Enterprise, a cracker store in Kaloor, says that the smaller crackers are directly purchased from Paravoor and the bigger ones are delivered from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.
“Though there are customers throughout the year, the sale, of course, is mainly during the festival season like Diwali and Vishu. There have been days during the season time when we have made sales worth over ` 1 lakh,” he says.
Shine adds that the criteria for obtaining a licence for opening a cracker has changed in the recent times.
It seems like the Chinese have not spared the crackers too. For, the market is abound with Chinese-made crackers.
The demand for Chinese crackers are much more than the ‘naadan padaam’ as they come in various types.
They look more attractive comparatively when burst, giving out colourful lights..
They are more affordable too. Some of the brands in the market now are We two, Burma, Standard, Monappas and Ayyans.