COVID-19 waters down Ugadi celebrations

The usually bustling K.R. Market in Bengaluru had very few people on Monday.

The usually bustling K.R. Market in Bengaluru had very few people on Monday.   | Photo Credit: K MURALI KUMAR

Sale of fruits and flowers affected by restrictions

Ahead of Ugadi, the city usually wears a festive look with raw mangoes, neem leaves, strings of mango leaves, jaggery and other typical essentials filling the markets and people thronging to them. But the outbreak of COVID - 19 has cast a shadow on the festivities this time.

With an atmosphere of fear around the pandemic, the subsequent lockdown, and the prohibitory orders imposed till the end of this month, Ugadi, which will be celebrated on Wednesday, is expected to be watered down this year.

Fruits and flowers merchants and growers are the worst hit. G.M. Diwakar, president, K.R. Market Flower Merchants’ Association, said that markets across the city were reeling under huge losses owing to COVID-19.

“Kanakambara and mallige which usually costs around ₹400 to ₹450 per kg during Ugadi is now being sold for ₹120 to ₹150. If not for the festival season, they would cost around ₹200,” he said.

Mr. Diwakar added that walk-in customers have rarely been found for a week now. “There has a been a dip in regular customers who buy for business as well. Even that business has been hit by at least 50%,” he said.

As the government has ordered temples to ensure minimum crowds, the festival celebrations will be restricted to traditions and rituals within the temples.

Owing to this, the flower business catering to temples has also been hit, he said.

To welcome the new year, people in the city order sweets, especially holige, from caterers and restaurants specialising in the delicacy.

However, this year, all the orders have been cancelled. Shivaram D., a city-based caterer, said that they started cancelling orders from the last week itself owing to various reasons.

“There is a shortage of staff and commodities and restrictions on travelling. Also, apart from us cancelling orders, even orders have drastically dipped,” he said, adding that people just want to stay at home safely and cook whatever they can.

Apart from the lull in vegetable and fruit markets, handloom and silk sales that mark the festival are also conspicuous by their absence owing to the prevailing restrictions.

Dip in business

Prakash Prigal, president of The Bangalore Wholesale Cloth Merchants’ Association, said that there was around a 70% dip in business owing to COVID-19.

“During the festival season, wholesale clothes from the city have a great demand in south India. Our silk market also has a demand across the city. But the demand has come down. We have postponed all current orders and there has also been a drastic dip in both orders and sales from the second week of March,” he said.

Sajjan Raj Mehta, former president, Karnataka Hosiery And Garments’ Association, said that as Ugadi was the beginning of the new year and it fell at the beginning of the summer vacations, the festival atmosphere would usually start at least a week ahead of the festival. “However, this year, due to self imposed restrictions and directions by the government, the business has hit a kind of an all-time low,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:15:51 PM |

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