With the four-day Chhath Puja, the worship of sun god, beginning with the Nahai Khai ritual on Saturday, traditional markets in Jharkhand offering puja materials are facing a stiff competition from online marketplaces.
The web portals are offering Chhath Puja “samagri”--items used in the rituals--including cow dung cakes, dry mango wood, bamboo baskets, coconuts, lemons and earthen lamps at the click of a mouse.
“Traditional city markets face shortage of cow dung cakes every year but now it is available online. The price is little high but it fulfills our requirement,” said Deepak Singh, who has ordered five pieces of cow dung cakes from ShopClues.com.
Cow dung cakes are in high demand and are being sold at Rs 20 to Rs 50 per piece by e-retailers.
Chhath Puja, the biggest festival in Bihar and Jharkhand is also celebrated with equal fervour in states like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
To perform the Chhath puja, worshippers need more than 110 puja samagri and they have to make numerous rounds of various local markets to collect the items. In big cities, many of the puja “samagri” are not available, besides arranging for them is quite difficult for working couples, say e-retailers.
“We are getting a huge response from metro cities and abroad. The online market for puja materials is also thriving in Bihar and Jharkhand,” said Sudhakar Saran, CEO of eChhathpooja.com, a dedicated online marketplace for Chhath puja.
He said they retail the maximum number of puja samagri, excluding liquids, between Rs 55 and Rs 400.
Besides the online stores, several malls and super markets have set up separate counters for puja samagri to cash in on the festival season.