A near-empty confectionery shop in the state capital, Bhopal, on Friday.
A near-empty confectionery shop in the state capital, Bhopal, on Friday.
FPJ

Bhopal: The recent spurt in the number of coronavirus cases has affected the market just ahead of Holi. People are missing from the markets given the tense situation in the city, say traders. The pandemic seemed to have relaxed its grip only a couple of months ago, but the state of affairs is back to square one. The traders in the market are apprehensive of their business while the public have switched into defence mode.

Shweta Ahirvar, a teacher at a private school in Bhopal, says the infection is spreading again and nothing but precautions can save them from contamination. She says festival is the time to celebrate, but celebrations matter as long as her family is safe and sound. Ahirvar takes online classes all day long. She was concerned about the sweets for the festival when her 17-year-old son suggested they could make sweets at home. She says her son utilised his time during lockdown to learn various recipes. She found the idea exciting and decided to cut off sweets from her market list, she adds.

The manager of a Holi special stall at New Market, Ahmad Farooque, says festivals like Holi used to be the busiest time of the year. They had to keep 5-6 staff to cater to every customer during the festival, she says, adding that even two are more than enough given the situation. People are suspicious and they prefer not to bring anything home from the market, he says. The business has gone down by 60%, adds Farooque.

The president of the New Market Traders' Association, Sunil Gangrade, said the spike in cases was the reason for the market going down. However, he also admits that the night curfew prevents the working population from visiting the market.

A vendor selling colours waits for customers in New Market ahead of Holi.
A vendor selling colours waits for customers in New Market ahead of Holi.
FPJ

A shopper, Vanitha Jagrate, said she had come to collect some packaged laddoos and abir from Vishal Mega Mart as she could not risk her family’s health with sweets from the shops. She says the pandemic has made us sceptical. She said, being a working woman, she could not find time to make sweets at home.

A namkeen stall owner at No. 10 Market, Kanthilal Chandanan, says the shopowners have stopped stocking namkeens as they are not sure about the customer footfall ahead of Holi.

A meat-shop owner at Itwara, Jameel Abdullah, says there used to be at least 30% more chicken and meat sales during Holi. This year, however, all that has changed, he says. The footfall has declined by three-fourths and the market has gone down considerably, adds Abdullah.

Similar is the situation for the catering business. The manager of VRK Caterers near Coach Factory Road, Ramkrishna Vishwakarma, says he had to return the advance payment to a client as they cancelled their Holi Milan Samaroh due to the hike in the number of cases. Catering used to be huge business for many a group met to celebrate Holi before or after, he says. But the pandemic has led to losses in the business, just as it did last year, adds Vishwakarma.

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