For Akila, a housewife, the days before the festival of lights are the busiest. She has to walk the tightrope of managing her household chores and prepare traditional delicacies for Deepavali for her extended family.
To many housewives like Akila, for whom Deepavali entails working overtime at the kitchen, caterers like Nithyashree Catering service come as a respite. The catering service pools in a small amount of money from its customers every month. It offers a double whammy to its patrons by paying back the money as a lump sum along with sweets and savouries on the eve of Deepavali.
“We collect Rs.150 per month from every customer for a year. After the ‘chit fund' expires, we give Rs.2,000 in cash along with one kg each of sweets and savouries,” says Sudharshan, co-owner of the organisation. The sweet-maker has over 500 customers. As he embarks on the task of preparing 500 kg of sweets just two days before Deepavali, Mr. Sudharshan cheerfully admits that though its lots of work, well-meaning customers always demand more of his sweets because of its quality and shelf-life. The organisation employs six to seven people in the task and each are paid Rs.700 per day. An array of mouth watering sweetmeats including laddoos, jangaris, badusha, mysorepa and wheat halwa along with the ‘mixture' are available.
“For a few years now it has become very difficult for me to cook all the sweets. The backbreaking work behind the exercise used to be a dampener. This service is particularly of use to us because it's like a small savings scheme and at the end of it we are benefitted not only be getting more money but also by getting really good sweets,” says Nagalakshmi, a house wife from Srirangam.
“We tend to spend money if it stays in our hands. Putting it away in this manner becomes very useful to us in the future if we are in sudden need of a large sum. Moreover, the children love the sweets that are made,” says Akila.
New customers who have not contributed to the corpus can also buy sweets at nominal prices at the marriage hall in Srirangam where the sweets are made.