There is a different kind of austerity drive, sweeping across the most opulent festival in the city — Navratri.
It is not just the smaller and medium dandiya mandals who are having a hard time finding sponsors because of the economic slowdown, even the bigger mandals are busy cajoling their trusted sponsors to fulfill their long-term commitments.
The reason, by now, is clichéd — the economic downturn is forcing the sponsors to tighten their purse strings.
Every year, the nine-day festival draws large crowds, who stream across the plethora of mandals set up across the city. This year, only a limited number of dandiyas are being held, disappointing the city’s large Gujarati population and the youth.
Navratri starts on Saturday and goes on for nine days.
The worst hit are event management companies and music bands, which until last year could afford to be choosy.
This year, they are scrambling for contracts.
“There are just a few days remaining for the festival to begin and most organisers have not yet announced their events because they have no sponsors,” said Nikhil Shah of the city-based Golden Beaters orchestra, which has been playing for dandiyas for over two decades.
The drop has also forced the band to bring its price down to Rs 12 lakh from the usual Rs 20 lakh it commanded, to play for ten days.
Manohar Gupta from Belapurs’ Utsav Charitable Mandal, used to get a sponsorship of at least Rs 3 lakh until last year, but this time,he is unsure if he will get even Rs 1 lakh.
Most of the sponsors are beverage companies and builders.
Bigger mandals are also negotiating hard with their regular sponsors.
“Corporate sponsors have tried to negotiate with us in the name of recession, but we could eventually convince them because of our credibility in the market,” said Devendra Joshi of Sankalp, the biggest Navratri mandal, famous for Falguni Pathak’s performances.
Event organisers also confirm the lack of response from sponsors.
Sanat Solanki of Tantra Brand Solutions has no event to organise this year.
Banubala Creations — another event organiser — which had the luxury to choose between six to seven big offers until last year, now has just a couple of contracts at hand — that too unconfirmed.