Diwali celebrations: Let there be light. And some sound...

If you think a ban on firecrackers would dampen the Diwali revelry, here are the electronic crackers. For a mere Rs.1500, you enjoy the sound of real crackers sans air pollution. Plus colorful strings

A vendor arranges a variety of colourful decorative lamps, Bhagirath Place, Delhi
A vendor arranges a variety of colourful decorative lamps, Bhagirath Place, Delhi
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Mohd Asim Khan

Electronic crackers are the craze this year at the Bhagirath Place market. The crackers with decorative strings and a remote-controlled woofer that emits loud sounds of crackers bursting on the push of a button. “With ban on firecrackers and people becoming conscious of pollution, these electronic crackers are selling well,” says Vicky, a shopkeeper adding the price range around Rs.1500.

“After two years of slow business, sales are finally looking up now,” says Abhishek of Sachdeva Electrical Appliances, in between attending to customers. “Besides the usual colourful ‘ladi’ (series) lights, people are going for waterfall lights and star curtains. These are new items this year. The 10x10 metre waterfall light costs Rs. 400 while the star curtain with 20 pieces costs Rs. 350,” he added.

From a variety of string lights (blinking and normal) to Neon flexible rope lights, and from twinkling stars to electric diyas and fruit-shaped lights, the market is flooded with Chinese products.

Electronic cracker (in red)
Electronic cracker (in red)
Asim Khan

“The entire market is full of Chinese products. Some of the shopkeepers here are big importers. Retailers like us buy from them and sell on a little margin,” explained Abhishek’s father.

There is no warranty of these products though shopkeepers added that they “usually don’t give any trouble for one-two years”.

Rahul Singh, a regular before the lockdown, says, “I have come here after two years. Glad to see the bustling crowd and so many colourful lights around. It really lifted my spirits.”

Shops that usually sell regular electrical items like switches, bulbs and cables round the year have put up decorative lights outside their shops for sale. “We are into the business of lamps and decorative lights for several decades. But now we have stopped selling Chinese products to a large extent after 2020. Today, only 20 percent of our total ware is Chinese, that too because some customers come asking for it,” said Ravi Kant of The Light House.

A shop selling handicraft lamps in Chandni Chowk
A shop selling handicraft lamps in Chandni Chowk
Asim Khan

“Why after 2020?” we probe further. “Why should we sell China’s items. Look what China is doing to us. We are encouraging Indian products so that our own manufacturers and artisans get work,” he added.

But how strong is the sentiment? “I don’t know what others think. But shopkeepers who are into the regular business of lights, unlike seasonal traders, now prefer showcasing Indian products, which are reliable, sturdy and can also be repaired,” Kant volunteered by way of explanation.

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A bunch of artisans were vending handcrafted products, delicate and pretty decorative lamps made of metal and fitted with LEDs. “This is Chhatar (canopy), that is Jhoomar (chandelier). Chhatar is priced Rs. 400 while the big Jhoomar is for Rs. 800,” said Nadeem. Are these imported products? “No, we have made them ourselves. We make handicrafts and our workshop is in Seelampur,” he confided.

A vendor sells handicraft decorative lamps at Bhagirath Place
A vendor sells handicraft decorative lamps at Bhagirath Place
Vipin

Ravi Kumar, the owner of ‘Lighting Boutique’ on Chandni Chowk main road says that he has never dealt in Chinese lamps. “We provide customised goods to our clients. And we are in this business since 1963,” said Kumar who has had a big signboard with ‘Make in India’ logo put up on his shop.

Back in the market, 17-year-old Govind has placed a few boxes of cheap string lights and e-diyas on a small table outside a shop. He is selling string lights for Rs. 50 a length, a pack of 18 e-diyas for Rs. 50. “On normal days I work as a salesman in a shop. Now I am selling these things to earn some extra money before Diwali,” he said. Are sales good? “Bas theek hi hai,” he said, not looking too happy.

In any case, cheaper Chinese lamps continue to light up millions of homes of Indians who cannot afford pricier Indian products.

Govind selling e-diyas and small decorative lamps at Bhagirath Place, Delhi
Govind selling e-diyas and small decorative lamps at Bhagirath Place, Delhi
Asim Khan

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