Bangle-sellers from Bihar to silk showrooms in city, it’s roaring business for all

When P. Sundaram talks about the quality and weave of silk sarees, he makes no empty promises.

From weaving the five yards of silk since he was 15 years old to stepping over to the other side, three years back, for Mr. Sundaram, the weeks preceding Deepavali have never been any different.

A supervisor at a popular saree showroom in the city, he is just one among the thousands who cater to close to a lakh shoppers that visit T. Nagar on an average over the weekends before Deepavali.

The hawkers, many of who sit by the road, come from faraway places.

While Hazrat Ali from Bihar lures shoppers with metal bangles, J. Sonu from Allahabad displays a huge tray of stone earrings and repeats the few Tamil words he has learnt.

Cops on toes

The city police, too, have made arrangements to maintain order amid the chaos on the streets. According to Tamil Selvan, assistant commissioner, T. Nagar, 60 local policemen, four inspectors, 12 sub-inspectors, 100 armed reserved police constables and 100 home guards have been deployed, apart from the regular poise of policemen, in the shopping hub.

“We have set up nine watchtowers and installed 16 CCTV cameras to monitor the crowds,” he said.

Standing beside the armed forces are 12 resilient girls from Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ashok Pillar, armed with whistles and ropes to manage the dizzying crowds. “At first the numbers looked scary, but now we know how to manage them well,” one of the girls said.

Rising costs

The buzz around the festival has become a burden of sorts for some families, who have to make huge purchases amidst rising costs. Kasturi Chellapan from Madurantakam, who sat outside Saravana Stores guarding her modest shopping bags, says with each year, buying new clothes for the entire family has become difficult. This year, she says, they managed to set aside Rs. 7,000 for the five members in her family.

P.R. Subramanian, partner, Kumaran Silks, says though there is a huge demand this year, there has been a slump in production and supply of stock. Outside the store, stands S. Saroja’s stall brimming with ‘Bangles from Bombay and earrings from Jaipur’.

“I have been selling my wares here for the past 30 years, and little has changed. No matter where shops come up in Chennai, T. Nagar will always draw a crowd, and there is no festival bigger than Deepavali,” she says.

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