GUWAHATI, Dec 20 - Barely two months back they sat in the same kiosks with Lakshmi idols and earthen lamps, the essentials to invoke the goddess of wealth and fortune, as per Hindu mythology. These brightly lit stalls now have all that is resplendent in Christmas grandeur.
Notwithstanding the hoopla around religious polarisation elsewhere, these small traders in the city have their own and unique ways of promoting cohesion through their trade.
Ahead of any major festival linked to any faith, the streets of Guwahati are seen dotted with such small outlets, mostly makeshift arrangements that fill the passers-by with festive fervour and remind people of the upcoming extravaganza. The uniqueness of most of such stalls is that they generally do not discriminate between religions!
Nayan Das, Sanjeev Dey and friends have made elaborate arrangements for Christmas this time. Other than the high in demand Christmas stars and Santa Claus, the chain of stalls at the Silpukhuri markets are filled with small decorative items to deck-up the Christmas tree, garlands, balls, tinsels, paper chandeliers and Christmas wreaths.
With just a couple of days to go for the fest, the market is at its peak, showing the growing popularity of the fest.
�Earlier, there were just two stalls selling Christmas items. But for the past three years, the number has gone up to seven-eight. Christmas too, like Holi and Deewali, is now in our annual calendar of events. All festivals bring happiness. Why to discriminate,� said Nayan Das.
Festive times are hectic for Sanjeev Dey and friends as they go through the exhaustive check list of essentials for Ganesh Chaturthi, Viswakarma Puja, Jhulan, Rongali Bihu, Deewali, Christmas, Magh Bihu, Holi and even Eid.
�In Eid, we put up stalls of sewai, dry fruits, fresh fruits and other essential items. People come to us for cost effective shopping. We get to understand different customs in the process of arranging the essential items,� Dey added.
Cosmopolitan in nature, Guwahati is inhabited by followers of all religions and faiths, creating the perfect ambiance to mingle and share the joys mutually.
Christians and non-Christians all throng the stall of Bhanu Kalita at the Goswami Service area. Presenting a delightful spectacle on both sides of MRD and GNB roads, the Goswami Service shops are a favourite destination for Christmas shopping.
�This time, we have a range of Santa caps starting from Rs 30 to 80 for such caps. People also buy Xmas trees, balls, chimes, etc. weeks ahead of the fest. This time, we have brought big Santa Claus dolls and beautiful Xmas crib sets that are being widely preferred by all,� Kalita said.