This year due to the long lockdown the traditional traders who were doing seasonal businesses of Rangoli, crackers, flowers, and lamps came infix. Since lockdown began, Gudi Padwa, Ram Navratri, Eid, and many such festivals fetched no market for street vendors and “make a shift traders”. COVID-19, the pandemic has disappointed everyone from an employee to an entrepreneur of all levels. Diwali is considered to be the biggest festival but this year the festival lost its sheen due to economic challenges to commoners.
In addition, thousands of Hindu priests in Mumbai have gone unemployed as various social functions; rituals, and religious festivities went low key, there were many major events, started with Ram Navratri and Gudi Padwa, and continued with Ekadashi and Vat Savitri this is the business season for Hindu priests. The wake of the coronavirus outbreak is in distress.
Mumbai Priest Prasad Guruji told Afternoon Voice, “We are depending on the earning in the form of Dakshina (donations) by the guests. If there are no pujas and other religious functions in the next few months to prevent gatherings, how will the priests like us survive? “We have families and responsibilities. Our conditions are not much exposed to people.”
Nitin Guruji from Thane said, “I had several bookings for Navratri, Ram Navmi was the biggest event. Lockdown started with Ram Navami and then Savitri Purnima and now Dhan teras and Laxmi pooja, we hardly have any bookings.”
He further stated that many priests don’t have any other steady income and their families solely depend on their earnings from rituals like pujas, and weddings. Our priest fraternity has lost many other contracts in this season,” all the poojas have been cancelled at the last moment in March-end, and that was the beginning. Many families, temples, shopkeepers, traders, and businessmen, who usually observe the Ramnavmi and Gudi Padva (Hindu New Year) have cancelled their programs to avoid gatherings and we have all gone out of earnings. We struggled to pay house rent to get the basic provisions. There was neither money nor people’s willingness to conduct festivals.”
However, manufacturers of the firecrackers have suffered huge financial losses due to the ban and various endorsements of celebrating ‘Crackers-Free Diwali’. The government has never thought of us, there is discrimination from society too.
When the Afternoon Voice contacted a firecracker manufacturer and wholesale marketer, Abdul Rahim from Bhiwandi, he said, “If the government had to impose a ban on firecrackers, then they should have informed us in advance, we wouldn’t have invested on manufacturing these products. The imposition of an unexpected ban on firecrackers has affected our source of income.”
“Earlier too during Bakri Eid the government had asked people to celebrate the festival on a low scale and goat selling was banned, which led to a monetary crisis and yet again the same situation came. I am a seasonal vendor and due to imposing a ban on firecrackers right now I am out of business,” added Rahim.