The fortnight of
, that dreaded period at least as far as retailers are concerned, has passed off well this year.
Stores that should have been whiling away time have seen crowds at their counters, and the tills that should have been silent, have not stopped ringing. India is shopping, and there is no time to pause.
Traditionally, among Hindus, the two weeks that constitute
are deemed a bad time to buy anything, from gold necklaces to cars to property to clothes. The retail industry factors this into its sales map, and conserves all its energies for the festive season that follows.
But this year it was as though there was no
, literally. From devout Hindus to marketing consultants to consumers and investors themselves, everybody has been on the party.
The economic prosperity of India is clearly changing the way Hindus practice religion and relate it to their daily lives, according to brand consultant Harish Bijoor, who runs an agency named after himself. “The new generation of Indians is a 24/7 shopper. They don’t understand
,” he said. “And this is the generation that will be taking spending decisions in the future.”
At the Mango showroom at the upscale Atria Mall in Mumbai, salespeople are excited because this October, they already surpassed sales targets. “People who come to shop here are very classy people who don’t believe in such things,” one said.
Suresh D. Bhatia of Major Brands (India), confirmed: the group’s sales have risen 18 per cent in the period. “Usually, Mango does see a dip in sales during shraadh but this year our stores have not seen this dip.”
Adding to the mood has been the rip-roaring Sensex, which roared past two milestones rapidly — 17,000 and 18,000. It is realistically eyeing the magic figure of 20,000.
Gold, too, saw tradition overturned: Tribhuvandas Bhimji Zaveri, one of India’s largest gold retailer, says customers book gold while its price is falling during shraadh. They then take delivery during the auspicious Navratris, says marketing head Kiran Dixit.
“Where do the Vedas say that shraadh is inauspicious?” asks numerologist Sanjay Jumaani, consultant to film star Mallika Sherwat, and cricketers Rahul Dravid and Irfaan Pathan.
“Tell me, why is a day when I remember by forefathers and invite them to lunch (in a manner of speaking), inauspicious?” asks Deepaq Moddgil, a Brahmin from a suburb in Mumbai. “Would I call them home on an inauspicious day?”
stems from the word shraddha, or belief, explains Pandit Dinu Shankar Shastri, a Vedic expert from Chanod, Gujarat. It is supposed to be a time of prayer and contemplation — there is no talk of putting life on a hold.
Anyway, the companies themselves are used to the pattern. They don’t fret too much, and look forward to the bonanza that follows: madcap shopping spree of the festive season — Navratri, Durga Puja, Diwali (and lately) Christmas and New Year.