Home Muslim religion Calcutta: In Covid Era, Secular Spirit Boosts New Market Puja Sales |...

Calcutta: In Covid Era, Secular Spirit Boosts New Market Puja Sales | Calcutta News

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KOLKATA: After two hours of shopping in New Market, Md Imran and Ayesha Khatoon return home with their purchase: her with two dresses; him with some t-shirts and shirts.
Zaid Alam, of Park Circus, also buys clothes at New Market with his mother. They had visited a few shopping malls but had not found a nice dress for a two year old in the family.
Around the time of Covid, about half of New Market’s festival season sales came from communities that did not celebrate Durga Puja as a religious holiday. Dozens of Muslim families from surrounding localities – Free School Street, Royd Street, Elliot Road, Taltala, Mehdi Bagan, Bowbazar, Colootola Street Park Circus and even Kidderpore, shop at the Heritage Market to enjoy the festival around the corner. : Durga Puja.
“Durga Puja is a religious holiday. But it’s also the biggest social occasion here. We too like to go out in new clothes, meet friends and eat out, ”said Imran, highlighting the Puja spirit, which transcends religion to embrace all communities.
For many families, shopping for clothes and shoes has been quite low on the priority list since March 2020, due to the pandemic. But things are changing now, with fewer cases. “A lot of my associates have Durga Puja in their home and they invite me and my family every year. Also this year, many invited me after a year of absence. So we went shopping for my wife, son and myself. I like to visit in traditional clothes, ”explains Irfan Ahmed, businessman and resident of Mahatma Gandhi Road.
Stocks are replenishing and traders in New Market are offering good discounts at festivals like Eid, Durga Puja, and Christmas. “Unfortunately, the two waves of Covid-19 coincided with Eid and even Eid-uz-Zoha. But now stores and malls are open offering great deals on new inventory. It’s a good time to buy clothes and shoes for family members, ”says Farhana Rasul, a resident of New CIT Road. “There are several gatherings of college friends in Durga Puja that we attend, so pieceing together the wardrobe has become important.”
Ashok Gupta, president of the SS Hogg Market Traders Association, says the secular nature of the festival and the enthusiasm with which all communities welcome the occasion saved the market from disaster.
“Usually at this time of year, less than a month before Durga Puja, 75% of customers are Bengali Hindus who buy Puja. Although attendance is currently around 45% of what it was in September 2019, nearly half of New Market’s customers are Muslims who live within a 3 mile radius. Without them, many stores that are currently operational because they are on the verge of breaking even would have been closed to reduce losses, ”Gupta told TOI.
Amit Saha, who owns a boutique of salwar suites in the market, says nearly two-thirds of his customers are Muslim women. “Durga Puja is a festival that everyone loves, regardless of religious beliefs,” he says. “It’s a great socio-cultural event. Apart from clothes, shoes and jewelry are flying off the shelves.
Muslim customers also say that Eid-ul-Fitr in May and Eid-uz-Zoha in July were swept away by the Covid restrictions and, as a result, were unable to purchase new clothes and then go out. “Everyone, especially children and young people, are looking forward to the holiday season,” Alam said.
The association’s general secretary, Uday Kumar Shaoo, says local Muslims have always frequented the market, but their presence has now become much more visible for three reasons: the absence of Bangladeshi customers due to travel restrictions between the two countries ; a decrease in the number of local Bengali customers as they move; and the lack of suburban customers, as local trains have yet to start operating.
“Many Bengalis have left central Calcutta for the outlying areas and now shop in markets closer to their homes in Behala, Jadavpur and Gariahat. So the buying cake for Muslim customers has increased, ”Shaoo says, adding that local Muslims had supported the market even during the difficult days after the market reopened. “At the time, 95% of customers were local Muslims,” he says.


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