The cool breeze of this season is once again laced with the distinct bouquet of dry palm leaf, sugarcane and palmyrah tuber as every empty space in the twin towns of Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai is filled with these farm produce with the Pongal celebrations approaching fast.
With only a few days left for Pongal which is celebrated this Sunday, sale of farm produce, including turmeric and vegetables, has moved to top gear. Since sale of sugarcane bundles brought from various districts in several lorries caused traffic snarl in Tirunelveli Town in the past, these roadside traders have been moved to the West Car Street and along the bank of adjacent Nainarkulam.
Similarly, sugarcane traders selling juicy canes have been moved to the recently relaid Seevalaperi Road as the Jawahar Grounds, the usual ‘sugarcane market’ during Pongal, is fully occupied with the temporary shops meant for traders of Gandhi Market which is to be rebuilt under Smart Cities Mission.
However, farmers selling palmyrah tuber and turmeric have set up their roadside shops around Palayamkottai Gandhi Market, eyeing brisk business. Each bundle having 25 palmyrah tubers is being sold for ₹60. Turmeric, harvested at Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, Cheranmahadevi and Ambasamudram areas, is being sold for ₹20 a plant.
Each bundle with 10 sugarcanes is sold for ₹350 to ₹500, depending on size of the canes, brought from Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Pudukottai and Thanjavur districts. “When more loads come in the next two days, the price will come down,” says S. Jeeva from Thanjavur.
Beautifully painted earthen pots in different sizes used for preparing sweet pongal are being sold along North Bypass Road and Tiruchendur Highway. “The price varies with the size - from ₹250 to ₹500 and the painted pots are priced up to ₹800, for which the buyers have placed orders,” says Muruganantham, a potter.
Dry palmyrah leaves which would usually be the fuel for preparing pongal have been heaped wherever palmyrah climbers find a decent empty space. Each leaf is being sold for ₹40. And a pack of three pieces of earthen blocks is sold for ₹150.
Sale of vegetables in all ‘Uzhavar Sandhai’ (farmers’ markets) in Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai has also picked up.
Since the parents would give all these produce as Pongal gift along with new vessels to their married daughters, all the roads of Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai are overflowing with vehicles, mostly autorickshaws, speeding towards their destinations.