Agra/Mathura/Vrindavan, Nov 3: Sri Krishna’s land Braj, comprising Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan, Hathras and Aligarh districts, is on a new high this Diwali with markets flooded with gift packets and Chinese lights Sunday. The sweet shops are virtually swamped with demands for the large variety of sweets lining the sale-counters.
“The markets and the busy lanes are choked with people and vehicles. It’s one massive traffic jam all over Agra,” said advocate Rajvir Singh, grumbling after he had to return without purchasing anything from Raja ki Mandi market in Agra.
Even when there is no space for movement or parking, people are buying vehicles.
“God knows from where the money is coming and they all keep wailing about price rise and financial crunch,” Rajvir Singh told IANS. Market reports in Agra said that in just two days before Diwali, sales of all products had crossed Rs.400 crore.
In Mathura, the main market from Dwarkadheesh Temple to Holi Gate is dazzling with lights and a striking range of consumer products are being attractively displayed to lure consumers.
Vrindavan is buzzing with intense emotional buildup as Sri Krishna’s devotees not only from India but hordes of foreigners have been making a beeline to various religious sites associated with Sri Krishna folklore.
The Braj Chaurasi Kos Yatra, covering a distance of almost 200 km on foot around Mathura, with a record number of pilgrims this year, is on. The religious fervour in Goverdhan, the holy hill town, 25 km from Mathura, is at its peak with preparations for religious meal-ceremonies Annakoot and Chhappan Bhog in full swing.
District authorities in Mathura are particularly anxious after reports of a massive influx of pilgrims expected for the ritualistic Yamuna Snan on Yam Dwitiya Parva, two days after Diwali. Brothers and sisters jointly take a holy dip in the river to be free of the shackles of Yamraj whose sister is Yamuna.
Meanwhile, expecting a huge Diwali rush, the state-run roadways corporation has made additional arrangements for transportation, deploying hundreds of buses to ferry pilgrims between Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan on Diwali.
The market for jewellery, clothes and other consumer durables has picked up momentum after a dull start last week. Sweet and gift shops are working overtime.
This year there has been a great demand for home-made chocolates. A large number of women entrepreneurs have entered this field. The Agra jail’s petha retail counter is also doing brisk business.
“One good reason for the upbeat market this time is that the festival falls in the first week when pockets are flush with salaries and additional incomes,” explains Bankey Lal Maheswari of Sri Nath Textiles in Johri Bazar close to Agra Fort.
The tourist inflow is steady. “But the same day return (to Delhi) due to the Yamuna Expressway, has hit smaller hotels,” says hotelier Sandeep Arora.
The Diwali momentum has also hit the smaller towns on the periphery.
“With rain gods smiling this year, the crops have been good and the prices of agricultural commodities have remained largely stable and profitable for the cultivators, which means more money in the kitty for Diwali purchases. Looks like everyone’s going for new mobiles, electronic goods, even computers,” says Shravan Kumar Singh, a social activist.
The only segment reporting dull business is real estate.
“Full page advertisements have been placed in local newspapers for flats and complexes from Vrindavan to Firozabad but the demand is just not there. All kinds of fancy schemes are latched to booking of flats but still buyers are hard to find,” says real estate agent Vinod Kumar.