Panic over spread of coronavirus means Holi, on March 10, is a subdued affair this year. North India, which celebrates the festival with vigour, is showing low energy.
People are also shunning Chinese waterguns and balloons. The few who are buying Holi-related products insist only on Made in India merchandise
Holi this year is a lacklusture affair as most feel that is better to be safe thanbe sorry. With the PM and several ministers cancelling Holi congregations, the citizens are also following suit. The glum is also visible in the markets across the states.
Holi gatherings cancelled
Rajasthan’s tourist traffic during Holi has been hit badly. In the Lake City of Udaipur, the royal family has decided to cancel its traditional Holi celebrations, Arvind Singh Mewar, a member of the former royal family and chairman and management trustee of the Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation, informed.
The outbreak of Coronavirus and its detection of two Italian tourists has brought the city to a standstill. The Jodhpur Collector’s advisory coupled with the tourism department’s advice have made for an ‘off-colour’ Holi even as the hospitality industry informed of huge drops in registrations. The combination of these factors have made for next to no sale of Holi products.
In Chandigarh, the Residents Welfare Associations and the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations have also cancelled ‘all celebrations’. Sale of colours, balloons and water guns have gone down with no buyers.
“Trade is out flat and stocks invested a pure loss,” said a trader.
Rs 50 L market goes bust in UP
In Lucknow, the craze for Super Hero, PubG, Iron man and Astronaut Holi packs is still there among children, but the change this year is that there are no Chinese product’s available in Uttar Pradesh.
Import restrictions have hit the Chinese products, which held an 80% market share, and brought relief for India products. Sushil Gupta, a watergun seller, said the last Chinese consignment was received last November, so sellers have ordered cheaper local alternates. Traders claim, around Rs 50 lakh worth Chinese products were sold last year.
Sullen mood in Patna
In Patna’s Bakerganj and New Market areas, besides at malls and on pavements, the ‘mood is dull.’ “There are no Chinese products anywhere. The fear of Corona is all-pervasive and sale of pichkaris and colours have come down by 90%,” said Niranjan Kumar, trader in Holi goods.
Md Azhar at New Market said, “Synthetic colours are out and even Holi masks, so popular with kids, attract no buyers.”
Nutan Kumari, a customer at P&M Mall, said she was not buying anything made in China.
“Jeevan hai toh Holi kal bhi aayegi (We can live to celebrate another Holi.) Demand for chicken and fish too has seen a dip.
N-E traders suffer supply glut
Assam businessmen too reported a 50% drop in sales at Guwahati’s Fancy Bazaar — the hub for entire North-East.
A section of traders had stockpiled gulal and Holi-related items in bulk late last year.
Now, they are worried as the demand from retailers has dropped. Plastic masks, caps and Holi canons mostly come from China. Some traders buy them directly, though gulal is sourced from Indian markets.
The scare, however, has affected both. Pramod Jain, another wholesaler, said he had purchased only Indian colours, yet there are hardly any buyers.
Jharkhand plays safe
In Ranchi and Jamshedpur of Jharkhand, desi-pichkari (local water guns), gulal, colours and balloons are the pick— but 80% of them are locally made.
“The 20% Chinese stock remaining from last year have no takers,” traders said. Sunil Kumar, a trader, said Chinese stocks have been imported in less quantities.
Now, most traders are buying stocks in bulk from New Delhi. Businessman Mukund Gadodia said, while the situation has helped Indian industry, the fear has limited Holi to a family affair.
‘Caution first’ rules the hills
The impact is more visible in Uttarakhand, where direct trade routes helped source Chinese goods. This year, however, is different with the Chinese share of products down to less than 20%.
Anup Kumar, a shopkeeper in Paltan Bazar of Dehradun said, “Chinese products have been shunned by traders.” State advisories have also made for cautious. Vipul Kandwal, a Dehradun-based physician said, “The virus spreads by touch so one needs to be cautious.”
Prices soar in Kolkata
Interestingly, with Chinese imports stuck in ports, prices for Holi products have soared by 20% with supply unable to meet demand.
“Consignment take over a month to reach Kolkata from China. We expected our orders would be in town by February but with suspended shipments, products are scarce. 80% of Holi products are imported from China,” said Hiyat Khan, a trader. On the pavements, hawkers of Holi products are conspicuous by their absence too.
End to China balloon sale
It’s the same in Bhopal and Indore. Even popular packets of Made in China 37 and 111 happy balloons and colour spray bottles, despite being available, have no takers.
“Buyers are reticent and wary. They inquire about and buy only Indian products,” said Manoj Lakhera in Bhopal’s Piplani area. In Indore’s Ranipura, the main market for Holi products, have been hit too.”
Virus shadow looms large
- Holi traders report stocks stuck at ports after Coronavirus scare and government advisories
- Chinese Holi products off popular buy lists; down by 80% to 90% in all states
- ‘No contact’ advisories issued by residents welfare associations in states leads to a drop in sales.
- Indian pichkari products in demand, though Holi colours, abeer and gulal suffer sale downturns.
- In Rajasthan, tourist traffic hit after Italians discovered with the virus.
- Tourism department advisories and curbs hit hospitality industry.
- A short supply of Holi material see prices zoom in Bengal, though pavement sales No takers for synthetic colours, Chinese balloons.