Festival of lights sparks mixed feelings

Bhubaneswar: Diwali — the festival of lights — is barely two days away, and the capital is somewhat geared to celebrate the festival with joy, peace and fireworks displays that light up the sky in many hues. However, governmental restrictions on sale of crackers and a fear of unseasonal rain spoiling the show this time are very much in the air.
Come October 19, people will celebrate the victory of good over evil, brightness over darkness, and truth over fallacy. As the big festival is drawing in, people from all walks of life here can’t resist the temptation to wear new dress and enjoy the day by decorating their house with lights. Shopping centers are busy with traditional purchases and presence of trendy stuff for the Diwali celebrations.
Monica Samantray, a RD Woman’s University College student and resident of Unit-III, said, “This Diwali, I preferred to purchase a Palazzo and a long Kurta to pair with for the day. I have also bought a sleeveless top which will go good with Palazzo.” She said she visited Big Bazaar for shopping.
Meanwhile, many men opt to wear dhoti-kurtas, Nehru jackets with jeans and pathani suits for this Diwali festival. “Dhoti-kurtas are the best combination and perfect pair for Diwali,” said Suryakant Tripathy, a resident of GGP colony. He visited the Unit-I market to do shopping for the festival.
People were also busy looking for home decorative items to light their house. Such items included new wall shades, curtains, candles, diyas, lanterns and much more. The rangoli stencils are among other items that are much in demand for Diwali. These stencils are available in the range of `100 to `500.
However, there is a pitiable scene in relation to cracker vendors who expected to do good business during the Diwali week. The authorities are yet to issue temporary licences to them to sell the crackers. Resident of Mancheswar area, Alok Sahoo, selling crackers for the last 15 years, said, “I applied for the licence 20 days back and I also paid `960 for it. However, the authorities are delaying the issue of licence. Today, police said I will get my licence Tuesday.”
Agreeing with him is Ram Chandra Pradhan, a cracker-seller for 7 years. “We are facing such problems only this year. The authorities have cleared the issue of licences but they are yet to be handed over to us. This year, there has been a long delay.” Pradhan is setting up his shop Monday near VSS Nagar ground. The vendors also said they used to get the licences from Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation in the past, but now they have to get clearance from fire service, police department and ground area authorities.
Jagi Babu, in cracker business for the last 24 years, said he will not get any profit this year and may end up in loss. “I have over 1 lakh of cracker stocks this year, but if we can open our shop only one day before Diwali, we will not be able to do good business. Likely, we will end up in loss this time.”
The unseasonal rainfall from October 18-20, predicted by the Meteorological Department, has come as a major worry to the cracker vendors. Muralidhar Parida, a city fireworks retailer in the business for 40 years, has set up his stall at an open ground near the Mancheswar area. He expressed his worry thus: “We hardly get a day to sell the fireworks and it is feared that the predicted rainfall will destroy our business. We are totally distressed this year.” He has crackers worth `1.5 lakh for sale, he said, and had invested `20,000 for other arrangements.

Deepchand Bihari, OP

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