All is not well with the hundred-and-odd sellers of fire crackers, who have pitched tents at Swaraj Maidan to add a tang to the Deepavali celebrations. With the city yet to recover fully from the aftermath of floods that hampered the normal lives of the people for more than a week, a sombre mood prevails at the grounds.
Many of the sellers feel that the people might prefer a low-key celebration this year as a mark of solidarity towards the thousands of families displaced by the floods.
“The floods have played spoilsport. We are anticipating a poor business this year, but we have not given up our hopes.
“The sales are likely to pick up on Friday and Saturday. We are banking on children, as they are the ones who possess the power to persuade their parents,” said S. Gopikrishna, a member of Sri Sai Hanuman Vijayawada Retail Fireworks’ Association, on Thursday.
He said that the members of the association had donated Rs. 1,000 each to the district Collector for the CM’s Relief Fund.
As many as 106 shops have already sprung up to add dhamaka to the festivities. “The instructions given by the Commissioner of Police that sales should be stopped by 6 p.m. on Saturday have come as a shocker to us. We are banking on last-minute purchases.
“No doubt the decision is taken to avoid any untoward incident,” said V. Krishna of Vigneswara Fireworks. Many hawkers feared that super bazaar outlets that offer huge discounts might adversely affect their business.
The growing awareness among the people about the dangerous consequences of noise and toxic pollution due to firing of crackers is also being cited as a reason for the unenthusiastic atmosphere this time.
However, for the cracker buffs a good number of new varieties are available in the stalls. “Rockets such as ‘Missiles and Ghost’, bombs like ‘Magic Tree’ and ‘Four Bangs’ are the latest arrivals,” said L.V.S. Narayana of Bharathi Crackers.
The flood victims, as expected, are in a sullen mood. “There is no Deepavali for us. We have lost everything in the floods. We will pray the almighty and seek His blessings. That’s all,” said S. Veerabrahmam, a resident of Krishnalanka.