Superstition closes market for 20 days
Thanks to a four-generation-old superstition, traders at a busy bazaar in Gujarat's principal city kept their shutters down for 20 days after Holi, incurring a loss of around Rs 50 million.
There is a strong belief among traders in Laat Bazar, which does wholesale business in grains and other such commodities, that whoever reopens his shop first after the Holi break would lose someone in their family and go bankrupt.
"So great is the fear that 40 years ago the market remained closed for as long as six months," Chunnilal, a caretaker at the market, told.
"This year the market remained closed till some prominent traders late on Friday consulted an astrologer who suggested an auspicious time for reopening of the market."
At 10 pm the traders performed a puja at a temple in the vicinity of the market and all shops were symbolically reopened. Real trading commenced only on Monday.
Laat Bazar, in the heart of the walled city, came into existence some 90 years ago. Most of its traders are Marwaris. Its daily turnover is around Rs 3 million.
The market remains closed for a week every year during Holi. The festival of colours marks the beginning of a new year in many parts of India. Hence, after Holi the traders reopen their shops according to astrological advice so that the following year is really "happy and prosperous" for them!
Said Madanji, a trader at the market: "We are the fourth generation of traders here. Our forefathers came to this city and established business in this market. We began to believe in this superstition due to some incidents in the past."
"A few decades back, a temple of Lord Rama Pir was constructed in the vicinity of the market to ward off all evil spirits. After that nothing bad has happened."
Chunnilal ruefully added: "It is really disappointing that we believe in such superstitions in the 21st century."