This Diwali will be an ordinary day for Ram Shekar, 29, his wife, two daughters, and a son.
Shekar, a rickshaw puller and the lone bread earner of the family of five, earns around Rs. 4000 per month and lives in a small shack in the slum area of the city.
Every year, he said, he saves a little money to buy sweets and toys for his children during the festive season.
The father of three, in a disheartened tone, said, “This year, I will not be able to buy toys or sweets for my children.”
Shekar added, “Everything right from food to shack rent has shot up rapidly. I barely can save anything by the end of the month.”
He said, “I have no choice but to try to find a few customers, so that at least my family does not sleep with empty stomachs.”
This is not just the story of one family that has been affected by high inflation costs, but several other families of the royal city too are planning to curtail their budgets for festival celebrations.
The trend of renovating house and exchanging expensive gifts with neighbours and friends will also be either ceased or toned down this year.
“The most affected strata will be the fixed income group. Inflation has adversely affected them as they do not have any other source of income to meet their expenses,” said Punjabi University professor of economics Jaswinder Brar.
He added that the upper middle class would not compromise on celebrations. They would invest their unaccounted income on gifts.
“It's only the vulnerable fixed income class that will bear the brunt of high inflation,” he said.
Professor of Sociology of Rajiv Gandhi Law University, Jasleen Kewlani said, “Due to inflation, the nation is losing its ceremonial flavor. This is being manifested in the celebrations of Diwali every year.”
No crackers, only few sweets to mark the festival
Household monthly income: Rs. 3000
Jasveer, 35, lives in a mud house at Bishanagar with his two daughters, son and wife. The entire family works as potters and are barely able to sustain their monthly income of Rs. 3000. Every year during the festival season the family strives to make some extra income by selling diyas. However, this year with most of their diyas still unsold, they are not sure whether they will be able to celebrate the festival.
Jasveer said, “This year with just a week to go before the festival most of our diyas are lying unsold. Every year I buy sweets for my children. But this year there will be no celebration for my family if the diyas remain unsold.”
Bakery items to replace dry fruits
Household monthly income- Rs. 35,000
Though a new member has been added to the Syal family, Diwali will remain a silent event for them this year.
Principal of Atma Ram Kumar Sabha School, Vivek Syal, 45, a resident of Arya Samajh said, “Cost of every commodity has hit the roof. Earlier we used to gift dry fruits to our relatives and friends. Buying five to 10 kg dry fruits was like a ritual in every Diwali. But this year we will restrict ourselves to buy just a kg of them. We will exchange bakery items with our friends.”
No new clothes, and lesser fireworks.
Household monthly income Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh
No new clothes and no expensive fireworks for family of Anil Verma, 53, additional superintendent engineer of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL). Verma's family has three members.
Verma has planned to cut down on their Diwali celebrations this year. He said, “Though I and my wife Neelam both are earning, still, we won't be able to celebrate Diwali the way we used to celebrate earlier. I have bought no new dress for my daughter. The taxes imposed on us are already so high, everything from electricity to fuel costs have increased.”
This year the Verma and his family will celebrate a quieter and eco-friendly Diwali, as the firecrackers have been omitted from their list of celebration commodities.
Cards and candles take on expensive gifts
Household monthly income above Rs. 1.5 lakh
This year's Diwali celebrations will not be as grand as they used to be for the family of Pushwant Singh, his wife Mona Gurkiran Kaur and their two daughters at Leela Bhawan.
Singh said, “Earlier we used to exchange expensive crystal gifts and imported chocolates. But this year we will gift only candles and cards to our friends and relatives. The prizes of firecrackers have skyrocketed and most of the sweets available in the market are adulterated. That is why we have planned to buy few firecrackers and we will prepare sweets at home.”
The family will have low-key celebrations during the festival this year.