Independence Day brings economic opportunities for Hindu women

Published: August 11, 2018
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A Hindu salesman, Asha, selling white and green bangles for Independence Day at Paper Market. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

A Hindu salesman, Asha, selling white and green bangles for Independence Day at Paper Market. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

KARACHI: As Independence Day approaches, many women belonging to the Hindu community have set up stalls in the Saddar area where they are selling green and white bangles and other items that are high in demand before August 14.

One such woman is 20-year-old Aliya who is seen at Paper Market opposite the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) building, selling green and white bangles for the Independence Day and rocking a cradle to quieten her 10-month-old baby.

Aliya lives near Pakistan Chowk. Clad in beautiful saris, she daily goes to Khajoor Bazaar near Lighthouse to purchase bangles and then reaches the Paper Market on MA Jinnah Road where she sells those till late at night.

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“We stay here till at least 2am,” she says, while rocking her baby, Somia. “My mother-in-law also comes with me and we will be selling these items till August 14.”

Along with Aliya, many other Hindu women have set up small makeshift stalls in District South to sell items related to August 14. They mainly sell bangles but some also sell different hairbands and clips in green and white colours.  “We are more Pakistani than anyone else,” Aliya says with a smile.

In other days, these Hindu women sell dry fruits at Empress Market. Near August 14, they temporarily shift their business. “When Independence Day nears, our daily income increases,” Aliya says, adding that the women are now earning a daily income between Rs800 and Rs1,000.

Most of the women entrepreneurs are relatives or neighbours who live in Bheempura or the Lighthouse area. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

Most of the women entrepreneurs are relatives or neighbours who live in Bheempura or the Lighthouse area. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

Another woman, Zareena, has been selling green and white bangles in August for many years to earn extra money. “Our relatives live in Jodhpur in India. We tell them how excitedly we sell badges and bangles before August 14 in Pakistan,” she says, adding that “I don’t think they get so excited on their independence day”.

The Paper Market teems with shopkeepers and visitors. “We set up stalls with mutual understanding to sell badges, flags, shirts and bands, while the females sell bangles,” said Aslam, who sets up a stall at the market each year before Independence Day. According to him, women who set up stalls work hard to earn their livelihoods and should be encouraged.

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An old woman, Shanti Bai, is often seen thronged by buyers. “I won’t sell it at Rs50,” she tells a customer politely. “I used to sell cashew nuts but they are expensive to invest in, hence I sell green and white bangles in August as their demand is high,” she explains, adding that she sells sets of various sizes of bangles between the range of Rs70 and Rs100.

Bai conducts her business on credit. She takes loan to set up her bangle stall and returns it after she makes money. According to Bai, most of the women entrepreneurs are relatives or neighbours who live in Bheempura or the Lighthouse area.

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