The rising prices of essential and non-essential commodities have made many families remain on tenterhooks. For some families, the price rise seems to have taken the charm away from splurging during the festival season.
Carrot (Rs. 40), onion (Rs. 32), broad beans (Rs. 40) and garlic (Rs. 150) are some of the costly items in the retail vegetable market these days. The sweet temptations have also got dearer with prices of elaichi and cashew having increased considerably. The festival budget in many households has jumped by 20 per cent in the past one year. Residents note that the celebrations are becoming an expensive affair.
However, prices of a few ‘must-use' items should bring some cheer. The cost of dal varieties has not escalated much except for a marginal increase of a rupee or two, say wholesale traders.
The prices of channa varieties that are most sought after for preparing sundal during Navarathri have not gone up much. The price of white channa went up during Vinayaka Chaturthi, but has now stabilised around Rs. 62 per kg. Black channa costs Rs. 32 per kg, while golden channa is priced around Rs. 42 per kg. “But the price of karamani is on the higher side,” says P. G. Sarathy, proprietor of Sri Andal Stores, a wholesale store. Both vendors and customers agree that the prices of essential commodities and vegetables are more or less around what prevailed during Vinayaka Chaturthi.
Kamala Gopalan, a resident of Royapettah, is not celebrating Navarathri as a relative in the family passed away. “But if I were to celebrate, my budget would have increased by 50 per cent and I would forego buying a sari to make up for the nine days,” she says. For a better bargain and quality, many families go to wholesale markets such as Koyambedu and T. Nagar, but families say one even needs to keep in mind the petrol charges that have shot up.
Many such as P. Sujata make a purchase at the Triplicane market to get a balanced deal. “Today, almost every staple vegetable is priced above Rs. 30 a kg and if you have to strike a balance, such markets provide a better deal,” she says. But, some may not agree. Some return from the market with a small purchase after realising the price in their neighbourhood store is justified.
According to wholesale traders in the Koyambedu market, the demand for vegetables has increased for the past one month as many people abstain from non-vegetarian food before Navaratri. Heavy rains in some pockets also disrupted supply of commodities, creating an imbalance. The prices would continue to fluctuate, without much of a dip until Deepavali, say traders.
“Families who are particular about keeping the tradition going will certainly celebrate festivals whatever be the price, although they would restrict the budget. But many youngsters would not care to celebrate,” says Ms. Gopalan.
“Cashew and elaichi are one of the most important ingredients for ‘paayasam' and they are very expensive now. With the prices of vegetables and fruits also going up this way, I have to resort to some major cost-cutting this festival season,” says R. Latha, a homemaker.
(With inputs from Liffy Thomas and Meera Srinivasan)
What they say
Anuradha Karthikeyan, IT professional: “One has to plan well during the festival season. From vegetables, and fruits to flowers, the prices of a range of items have gone up. While the price rise of each commodity may seem marginal, the cumulative increase is significant. If it is about luxury, we have to think twice. Otherwise, we have to look at options such as using a two-wheeler instead of a car to cut cost and manage well.”
N. Subramanium, fruit vendor, T. Nagar: “The prices of fruits have come down compared to last year, but we do not get as many customers these days. Even the festival rush is missing this time. People are buying, but they think Koyambedu is a cheaper market, so they head there. But the fact is you wouldn't find much difference, we have to make up at least for the transport charges we incur.”