MADURAI: When thousands liven up the temple town of Madurai this Chithirai festival after two years, it’s a much-needed solace for scores of traders. Leave aside the high spirits and devotion that has already filled the air, the town, from a business point of view, is back as the centre of cash inflow it used to be.
According to business experts, the total sales among all sectors during this year’s festival could amount to hundreds of crores of rupees, which could well be a sign of being ‘back to normal’ for the local economy after the pandemic-induced losses.
Speaking to TNIE, Dr N Jegadeesan, president of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said, “Before the pandemic, the total trade during the Chithirai festival would approximately amount to Rs 500 crore in the whole of Madurai district. The festival, which sees a footfall of several lakhs, throws in a lot of possibilities for a rise in consumption levels, and thereby an increase in trade. Over the past two years, though, trade during the season had come to a standstill.”
Interestingly, the two-year break might also mean the business might go over the roof this time, said Jegadeesan. “With the festival being held after the break, the number of devotees arriving is likely to increase when compared to normal festival days. This would increase the total trade well above the usual festival season trade volume,” he added.
Srinivasan, a trader who runs a shop near the Meenakshi Amman temple, agreed and said businesses such as lodging, pooja items, house appliances, and even the food sector are likely to witness a minimum of 30% increase in sales compared to the usual festival season sale.
Take, for example, the case of Manoharan, a flower trader attached to the flower traders association in Madurai. For him, the festival days have brought in some respite for the business which had been facing a dip for consecutive weeks now.
“The demand for flowers had drastically dropped in Madurai, which made us reduce the procurement. This would, however, leave the farmers in a post-harvest loss. After consecutive weeks of poor demand, there is an increase,” Manoharan said. He added that there is a slight rise in prices owing to the prevailing rainfall reducing the arrival of flowers to the district, and the festival further increasing the demand.
He said that on average, jasmine — a sought after flower during the festival — costs around Rs 500 a kilogram. For individuals like Manoharan, the festival may not solve all of their financial problems. But, he is among the many you could see in the temple town this month, for whom the customer would be the god.