Festival of Lights and Secular Spirit!!!

Deepavali – The festival of lights not only just brings happiness and joy to the people in the society, but there is a whole lot of other deeper significance attached to it which is very fascinating to know. The air of expectancy for any festival in India starts from the shopping spree that people resort to, as the festival fast approaches. Many times the shopping spree is the only aspect that people do really enjoy, more than the actual day of the festival.

Tiruchy Days:

As youngsters in Tiruchy, we were introduced to the concept of pre night deepavali street sales that are conducted around the teppakluam near the main guard gate. It used to be an adventurous night of wading through the crowd and just bargaining with the vendors to get goods at half price, which was usually the pattern on which the small time traders would conduct their business. It was not only e clothes, but instead any property that could be useful for each and every one. 

The innate happiness what we would get after we purchase any material or item at throw away prices from the street site sellers would be a more happy experience than the actual festival day.

Infact the joy after grabbing a new product or an item at a throw away rice would be t he talking point among any age group. As a bunch of close friends, we used to go to the main guard gate for the Deepavali night sale get drenched in the sea of humanity. The purchase would eventually end up with a sumptuous food a very preferred restaurant. For most of the adventurous guys who would make it to the Deepavali Eve Shopping it would mean that when they go back home, the festival is already gone by. On a philosophical note, this experience of going out in the night with friends can be equated with the feel of growing up in age as adults, as we would be permitted to return home late, many times it would be early morning.

New Insight @ Vilakuthoon

Deepavali Eve night shopping continued at Madurai as well as I moved to settle down at Madurai- the cultural capital of the state of Tamilnadu. Madurai with its magnificent Meenakshi Amman Temple and a whole lot festivities attached with the city has been and will always be a favoured place for many. The streets around the Meenakshi Amman Temple would be buzzing with frenzied activities on any day, since most of the textile showrooms, jewellery shops, fancy items, foot wear retailers, eating outlets and general stores are stacked up with stock and staff to handle large volume of customers.

The high mast light tower which stands at ‘Vilakuthoon’ junction is the nerve centre of all attractions during the Deepavali Eve Shopping fare, since it will be flooded in a sea of people who throng the arterial road for doing the last minute shopping for the big festival in the city. There is a pereception in the society that the street shopping is done by people from the low economic strata. If one makes a visit to Vilakuthoon area during the Deepavali season, they would find people of all segments in the society do come with their swelled purses and sparkling mood to get immersed in the shopping spree. For many it is a jolly good walk down the crowded road which can be thrilling experience. Apart from purchases like dress and fancy items, one could quench your thirst with Sugarcane Juice and have a quick bite with lots of snacks, not missing the popular ‘Jiggarthanda’.

For a very long time, I was wondering from where do the street hawkers come and set up their mobile shops sell all variety of clothing and fancy items for the public during the Deepavali season in places like Madurai and Trichy, infact the whole of Tamilnadu. My curiosity started to grow in me and it rather became a desire to go beyond the crowds and locate a few street sellers to get to know them in person. I must confess that this desire was worth a try and left within me a pleasant feel of secularism.

Sales & Secular Spirit:

The first person that I met with was Mr. A. Rahaman who was selling colourful umberellas. He was a bundle of energy and positive vibration that kindled a spark within me about this concept of Sales and Secular Spirit. He hails from Tiruparankundram and he comes to the city for Deepavali sales not only to make money, but to make it with happiness. He recounts that this practice has been going for many years and that what money he makes during the Deepavali Night Sales which lasts for a week prior to the festival is a considerable amount with which his family is supported during the year. He wanted to sell his umbrellas to people by making friends with them despite the crowds. The manner in which he posed for my camera brought real goose bumps within me. I was impressed with his knack of sales and wished that he grew in stature to own a shop of umbrellas in Madurai one day.

The next was this man from Rajasthan, whose name I failed to recollect now. He was a mobile showroom, holding in his hands a couple of hangers with new frocks for girls. He spoke chaste Hindi and said that he travels all across India to sell textiles and his visit to Madurai during the Deepavali has become a sort of a planned schedule. He was a bundle of emotions, since he had problems in conversing with the Madurai folks in Tamil, but yet he was able to attract a lot of customers. I guess his turban might have helped …perhaps!

Mr. Subramani who was selling fancy items along with his brother and wife on the pavement bang opposite to a big textile showroom was infact doing good for both. Those who stopped to buy bangles, ear rings and other fancy items also walked into the textile showroom as well. 

No wonder the Textile sales guy who was waiting at the entrance also invited me into his shop for a few photographs, which I politely declined, since my focus was the street sales and not show room sales.

The moot point here is that he was not selling all branded products of beauty care, but despite that he had customers from all kinds to buy the items that were on display on his rickety stand. The moment I took out my camera to take a picture of him, he sported a new look with his neatly worn dress.

Lifelong lesson:

One aspect that I can share with you all is that, we Indians are mentally and socially very close knit and there is a secular fabric that is lacing us to our society. No wonder our secular identity is causing a strain to many eyes across the globe. The Festival of lights has certainly lights up many families with happiness, some with sweets and some with super sales.

Come What May…India will stand united with good Samaritans like these chosen few whom I have featured in this blog.

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