With two major festival of Odia calendar- Savitri Brata and Raja- round the corner, garment traders in Odisha have urged the State government to ease the lockdown norms for a few hours a day to run their business for the festive season.
While Savitri Brata, observed by married women for the long life of their husbands, falls on June 10, Raja festival, celebrating womanhood, will start four days later on June 14.
Every year, markets across the State witness unprecedented rush during this time and traders particularly those deal with cloths do bumper business because of the festive demands.
However, now the businesses, starting from small shops to big market complexes are shut in the State due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Nandi Sahi, the biggest wholesale textile market in Cuttack wears a deserted look due to the lockdown while cloths worth crores of rupees are gathering dust in the showrooms.
The traders said they had procured garments worth crores of rupees in view of the various festivities and marriage seasons. They said small traders from 10 nearby districts depend on the market. However, the lockdown marred their businesses.
Cuttack Merchant Association president Hanuman Singhi said, “We had purchased garments for Savitri Brata and Raja festivals. Besides, we were also eyeing the marriage season. Now we demand the government to give us window of some hours to do business during the lockdown so that we can sell our stock to some extent.”
The situation is similar in Capital city Bhubaneswar which houses about 5,000 cloth stores. Eerie emptiness prevailed in the market building which see the biggest crowd of shoppers during this period. Traders say if the government permit opening of shops for 2-4 hours a day by following Covid protocols, they will at least manage to arrange shop rent and staff salary.
Gandhi Ray, a garment trader in Bhubaneswar said, “Like last year, this year too traders are facing crisis due to the lockdown. If the government allows opening of shops for 2 to 4 hours a day, traders would heavr a sigh of relief.”
Due to closure of shops a section of women buyers are opting for online shopping. However, they said it is not feasible for all.
“Raja and Savitri Brats are the most important among festivals for women. If the government allows the opening of shops, we will purchase sarees and other essential items by strictly following the Covid norms,” said a woman in Cuttack.