CHENNAI: It’s raining gold. Jewelers, small and big, are working overtime to meet the demand of the customers flooding their shops to buy gold for the auspicious Akshaya Tritiya falling on Saturday. What used to be an urban phenomenon all these years has now embraced the rural folk as well, as Hindus believe that buying gold on this day, even just a few grams, would bring wealth and prosperity during the year. There is plenty in their mythology to back their faith in the metal of gods and royalty.
For instance, it is said that Kubera got all his wealth from Lord Shiva on this day. And Draupati in Mahabharat was blessed by Krishna with Akshaya patram from which she could draw unending resources. Also, Sudama received a palace and huge wealth from Krishna on the Akishaya Tritiya day. The Indian admiration for gold is not illustrated in just the jewelry worn but even the huge use of the precious metal in the places of worship; there are temples with the entire gopuram made of gold.
True, the modern girl may not even know all these stories but there is enough and more to excite her by way of catchy slogans and offers in the colourful advertisements that flood the newspapers and TV channels even days before the auspicious day. Well-known realtor Akshaya Homes has come up with a novel marketing initiative to capitalise on the growing popularity of Ashaya Tritiya. It’s advertisement told the audience not to buy gold during Akshaya Tritiya and if that shocked the woman at home, the realtor came out with a ‘sweet’ offer: take two grams of gold free for every one lakh rupees of investment in Akshaya properties.
A Thomson Reuters report about a year ago reiterated a long-known truth: India is the largest consumer of gold as generations of Indian families believed that the yellow metal is the safest investment option and with the easy availability of safe lockers in banks, it got easier to store their gold for the rainy day. Even a poor parent tried best to gift at least a few grams of gold to the bride at wedding while the affluent families would parade heavy jewelry—some communities in Tamil Nadu give away hundreds of sovereigns of gold as marriage dowry.
A Jindal Bullion report of 2016 said that while south India consumes more gold than the rest of the country, Tamil Nadu leads its neighbours in the love for the precious metal.
The Indian admiration for gold is not illustrated in just the jewelry worn but even the huge use of the precious metal in the places of worship; there are temples with the entire gopuram made of gold. A report from Angel Broking said India’s gold imports fell by 44 per cent to 510.6 tonnes in 2016—the lowest in 13 years—due to reasons such as demonetisation, excise duty hike that led to strike by the jewelers and the high gold price in the world market. There is optimism of revival of demand as the World Gold Council says Indian demand for gold would shoot up to 600-650 tonnes in 2017.
The gold council prediction is not misplaced, going by the spurt in buying this Akshaya Tritiya. Jewelers are helping the excitement in a big way. For instance, Lalithaa Jewellery launched a new scheme ‘Swarna Akshaya’ which waives VAT on the first installment of the 11-month period. “At the end of the 11th month, there won’t be any wastage charges. We are helping buyers save up to 20% on their spending,” said a Lalitha spokesperson. T.S Kalyanaraman, of Kalyan Jewellers, said, “Kalyan Jewellers should witness 10-15 percent growth in revenues during this Akshaya Tritiya compared to last year based on the present trend of purchases. We have seen a robust increase in all our categories including necklaces and studded jewellery.”
True, there are some who believe Ashaya Tritiya is not just about buying gold in the hope it would bring diving grace from Goddess Lakshmi. “Our Vedas say that we could celebrate this auspicious day, which falls during extreme summer, by feeding the poor with curd rice, giving them water and donating umbrellas”, said vedic astrologer S. Ramachandran. “This practice of buying gold for Akshaya Tritiya is just about 20 years old. My family still follow the older tradition of charity”, said Chennai homemaker Vasanthi Subramanian.