Tempers fray over Eid lockdown

Clothes, bangles sellers fear further dip in income due to restrictions

Talib Fareedi May 12, 2021
Eid shopping is in full swing in the bazaars of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. PHOTO: FILE


Eidul Fitr is a time of celebration when people prepare new clothes and shoes for themselves and their loved ones.

Men, women and children as well as elderly citizens not only wear the best of their outfits on the occasion but also shop to pair them with matching shoes and other accessories.

Women apart from donning colourful dresses, pair them with matching jewelry, sandals, ‘paranda’ and, most importantly, with attractive bangles.

Although bangles are sold all year round and are also worn at wedding functions and other events, the business witnesses a boost on the occasion of Eidul Fitr.

The women tend to prepare for Eid and begin shopping for their bangles during Ramazan. The business witnesses a surge during the last 10 days prior to Eid.

Hyderabad is the centre for the production of bangles. Bangles made of various materials including glass, plastic and metals are made in the city and are quite popular in Lahore.

Similarly, the interior city of Lahore had the biggest centre of bangles, from where they were supplied to all over Punjab. Nearly 30,000 stalls of bangles were set up in small and big markets of the city in past years, which remained operational till the eve of Eid.

However, owing to the lockdown, for the first time in the country's history, the sellers would spend the Chand Raat at their homes.

Earlier, they would return to their homes at Fajr time after selling out the bangles, but this time the government has imposed lockdown due to the ongoing wave of Covid-19, affecting the economic activities in bazaars, particularly the traders involved in selling Eid merchandise.

The price of a box of bangles ranges from Rs300 to Rs5,000, which carries bangles in different designs and colours.

Some designs were customised on the demand of the buyers to match with the clothes for additional charges.

The cost of bangles differs in markets. A dozen bangles are priced at Rs50 to as high as Rs1,000, depending on the quality.

Amjad Bilal Ishaq, a trader associated with the business, shared with The Express Tribune that he had been helping his father since childhood and had not left the business even after his father's demise. “In fact, I continued to operate the business in various markets of the city.”

He said the traders made enough money for an entire year by selling bangles on Chand Raat. “However, this has not been happening for the past two years,” he lamented. “The businessmen were even unable to recover the cost of the production of bangles. The business of bangles tends to begin in the evening but the time restrictions of shutting down businesses at 6pm have left small-scale sellers with no business. And things are worse owing to Covid-19.”

He said traders had requested the government to allow them to operate their businesses until Chand Raat while following the coronavirus-related SOPs but the plea was dismissed.

Meanwhile, for the first time in the history of the country, prolonged Eidul Fitr holidays will be observed.

“Had the government granted permission for the businesses during the last three days of Ramazan, thousands of people would have been able to make a living,” Amjad argued.

Anarkali, Bano Bazaar, Gulberg, Liberty market, Ichra, Iqbal Town, Moon Market, Gulshan Ravi, Samanabad, Wahdat Road, Faisal Township, Green Town, Ravi Road, Shahdara, Muslim Town, Saddar, Dharampura, Vasanpura, Tajpura, Jauhar Town and Yateemkhana Bazaar were among the biggest bangle markets operating in Lahore.

The markets house permanent shops whose owners charge rent worth thousands of rupees. Scores of small and big stalls of colourful bangles were also set up in each of the markets. However, for the first time in the history of Lahore, owing to the Covid-19 related steps being taken, the citizens will be deprived of the bliss.

People tend to wait throughout the year to go on a shopping spree on Chand Raat, but this time, the Covid-19 has made it impossible for the business to flourish.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2021.