Chennai: There were fewer cracker outlets in sight and counters that usually buzzed with customers at least a week ahead of the festival of lights were empty only to witness a huge demand two days ahead of Deepavali, say city based fireworks traders.
“Due to the rains, last year was horrible. Fearing losses again this year, we kept lesser stocks and the supply of crackers, though, was dull compared to last year’s it really outstripped the demand,” said Khaja Mohideen, a fireworks dealer based in Parrys. He cited rainy weather predictions and the poor health of the state Chief Minister to be the two reasons for dim prospects before the festival.
“The deepavali bonus of government employees got delayed as the chief minister was in the hospital,” he said, adding that after receiving their bonuses a day or two earlier, people rushed to buy crackers.
“Prices of grade one crackers, however, saw a 2 – 4 percent increase from last year, but that of grade 2 and below remained the same as it was in 2015,” he continued, adding that instead of trading crackers worth Rs 1 crore, he cut his input by half to `50 lakhs this year. “We were expecting rain, so there was low supply and demand initially, but in the last two days, the demand was more than the supply,” he said.
Dwellers in many parts of the city who were anticipating a loud Deepavali this year may have been surprised to see a mellow one compared to previous years.
“I was expecting a much louder Diwali, but this one was comparatively less polluted and less noisy than what was witnessed last year,” said a city-based doctor.
Wholesale dealers like Mahesh, however, felt that the rain predictions couldn’t dampen his Deepavali fervour. “We started off a month earlier when the prices were high and the discounts were low, but a week ahead of Deepavali, our prices were comparable with that of the procurement prices from Sivakasi,” he said. “This also led to an increased demand in the last day ahead of Deepavali,” he concluded.