Uttarayan amid Covid, curfew leaves Surat kite traders in lurch


The Uttarayan festival is only a few days ahead, but kite manufacturers and traders in Surat say that the business has been badly hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the night curfew.

The last two nights before the kite flying festival, celebrated on January 14, see kite auctions in various parts of the city including Dabgarwad, Bhagal, Randera and Kotsafil road. The auctions which start from around 9 pm used to be held till 4 am.

But the low footfall due to the pandemic and the imposition of night curfew have forced most of kite manufacturers to do away with the auction.

“Apart from retail sales, we auction kites during the night. But with the curfew in place, it is difficult for us to keep our shops open late in the night,” says Naresh Chhatriwala, who runs his family business of selling kites and threads at Dabgarwad.

Some of the kite traders have decided to start auction from 8 pm onwards.

“We had earlier planned to make representations to the police commissioner to extend the night curfew limit, but we felt that it won’t be of help. So we have decided to organize a kite auction from 8 pm to 10 pm,” Naresh, 50, adds.

For the kite manufacturers, Uttarayan is the time when they have the maximum sales.

“Our business is seasonal. In November and December we could not do even 50 per cent of sales.”

Another kite trader Chandresh Patel, who runs a shop at Kotsafil road in Surat, says, “This year we have kept limited stock in our shops and not invested more money in purchasing kites, due to the pandemic. The prices of kites and threads have also come down, but there is not much footfall. Today we only had five five customers for the whole day and did business of Rs 200.”

Patel also says that the night curfew has affected their business.

“People who are working come to our shops during the night to purchase kites. Due to the curfew timings, they are also not coming,” he says.

“We supply kites to shopkeepers in Navsari, Valsad and Bharuch, but this year we haven’t got much orders from them. They have asked only for limited stock. Last year we did good business, and we kept our shops open till 4.00 am,” Patel says adding that civic body officials have asked them to follow Covid-19 protocol while selling.

“We made arrangements like keeping sanitizer bottles at our shops but the customers are not coming,” Patel says.

Aziz Shaikh, a major kite manufacturer of Rander, says, “We have been making kite starting from 5 feet to 9 feet in size. Last year, we sold kites of size 5 feet for Rs. 200 and this year we have reduced it to Rs 150. Similarly 9-feet kite priced at Rs 1000 per piece last year, is being sold for Rs 900. This year many kite manufacturers in our mohalla had also not made kites due to the pandemic.”

Aziz is hopeful that the demand may increase and more customers will turn up.

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