GUWAHATI, April 13 � Notwithstanding the spectre of price rise � especially of foodstuff � looming large over the Bihu festivities, the people are preparing to welcome the Assamese New Year to the best of their abilities.
The city's daily markets at different places such as Ganeshguri, Chandmari, Kacharighat, Bamunimaidam Railway Colony, etc., drew large crowds today. Fish, meat, milk, curd, cream, etc., were the most sought-after items besides the different Bihu delicacies including pitha, ladoo, etc.
Still, the sellers feel that the kind of enthusiasm seen among buyers till a few years back is not there. "We are getting customers but not in the scale we used to get say five years back," Haren Barman who was selling curd at Ganeshguri, said.
Those selling a wide assortment of traditional Bihu delicacies, however, were not complaining as they were doing brisk business. "Our business is satisfactory, and I have exhausted my stock today. We get lots of customers and perhaps this is because the practice of preparing the delicacies at home is on the wane in cities and towns," a vendor, Rinku Das said.
Among those doing good business were the roadside vendors selling the traditional gamosa � a symbol of Assamese hospitality and a household item of multiple day-to-day use. The Bihu time invariably witnesses a soaring demand for the gamosa which is reflected in the number of makeshift stalls selling gamosa across the city.
�We have been selling gamosas for several years now and it continues to be quite popular. Those in the range of Rs 40-60 are the most preferred by the customers,� a vendor at Chandmari said.
Bihu is also the occasion for purchasing new clothes for most people, with Fancy Bazar being the most favoured shopping place for the purpose. Lanes and by-lanes of Fancy Bazar have been buzzing with Bihu shoppers for the last few days.
�This is the best place for buying garments simply because you get a wider choice and can also bargain which is not the case in the big shopping malls,� Amrita Dutta, a regular visitor to Fancy Bazar said.
Notwithstanding the existence of a devoted class of buyers for whom Fancy Bazar offers the best prospects of getting the best, many retailers do feel that the spurt in the shopping malls had affected their business.
�The glitz of the malls naturally attracts the shoppers even though the malls have limited choices as far as garments are concerned. One can, in fact, get garments of better quality at lesser prices at Fancy Bazar but not many people realize this,� a seller felt.
Another seller, however, feels that of late Fancy Bazaar had been able to regain the confidence of the buyer. �The initial craze for shopping malls seems to have waned a little, with customers realizing that Fancy Bazar is the best when it comes to buying garments,� he said.
The music industry too experiences a boom during the Bihu, as audio cassettes, CDs and DVDs on Bihu songs and short films are released in large numbers. Singers and musicians � veterans as well as upcoming ones � have a busy time with Bihu functions being held for several days during the festivities and even beyond.