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Price rise, slowdown do not deter festival spending

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IN DEMAND NOW: Shopping is a major activity during the festival season.
IN DEMAND NOW: Shopping is a major activity during the festival season.

Anil Kumar Sastry

Tradition and a sense of duty goads Bangaloreans to spend more now even as they plan to economise later

BANGALORE: Prices may soar, the slowdown may dig in and jobs may be on the way out but none of these have managed to stop Bangaloreans from celebrating Dasara with exuberance.

The price of rice, sugar, fruits and flowers have soared to new heights. But it looks like the Bangaloreans’ resilience has kicked in: many tightened their belts on other days so that they can afford to celebrate Dasara uncompromisingly.

Vegetables and fruits are twice as costly as they were last year. Fine quality rice is Rs. 38 a kg; tur dal Rs. 84 a kg; urad dal Rs. 57 a kg; sugar Rs. 35 a kg; jaggery Rs. 45 a kg; apple Rs. 100 a kg; pomegranate Rs. 120 a kg and chikkoo Rs. 40 a kg.

But this has not deterred spending. In fact, a lot of it will happen in the coming weeks as there are more festivals to come. If Ayudha Pooja and Vijayadasami are the high points of Dasara, the next one round the corner is Deepavali. On these occasions, the demand for flowers, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products rise exponentially and sellers invariably hike prices. B.G. Bhat, who runs a small-scale industry manufacturing motor coils on Ullalu Main Road, says: “I have to perform the Ayudha Puja and distribute bonus to over 20 employees, a majority of whom are physically challenged. I do not want to scale down the puja as I distribute sweets and goodies to all the employees. This is one occasion where I can recognise my employees’ contribution and they too get the feeling of belonging.” He has made it a point to give priority to physically challenged persons in employment as they find it difficult to get jobs elsewhere.

Mangalamma, a homemaker in Vijayanagar, says that considering Navaratri comes just once a year, her family is in no mood to cut back on the celebrations. “We celebrate the Saraswati Puja, the Lakshmi Puja, the Ayudha Puja and of course, Vijayadasami. If we, as parents, compromise on the celebrations, we would be failing in carrying forward the tradition,” she says.

For Rajanna, resident of Bande Math near Kengeri, who runs a business transporting building material, Ayudha Puja is the occasion to reward his truck drivers and loaders. “Yes, the prices of all commodities, including flowers and fruits, have more than doubled,” he said.

Extra buck

Daily wage earners are not far behind in celebrating the festival either. Muniyamma, who makes a living selling flowers at K.R. Market, says she earns an extra buck during the festival season as prices of flowers go up. “While I keep a portion of the income for family exigencies, I spend the rest in celebrating the festival with a couple of good meals and new clothes for everyone,” she says.

For Srinivasa Murthy, a private sector employee, visiting either Sringeri or Kollur during the Navaratri with family has been a tradition. “These days the travel expenses have also increased besides the prices of all essential commodities, but not my salary. Still, I am keen on continuing the practice as my family does not mind when I tighten spending later. My children are willing to forego their evening chaats and ice-cream for a few weeks while my wife enforces economy measures in the kitchen during the weekdays,” he says.

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