Gloomy times: Chand raat celebrations lose their lustre

Decoration of lights on shops, buildings avoided due to high costs.

While shopping areas were still bright, the fairy lights associated with national and religious holidays were curiously absent from most building. PHOTO: EXPRESS/MUHAMMAD JAVAID


Eid is a time to celebrate, but this chand raat, the capital will not light up like in the past. The steep rise in fuel prices has restrained many shopkeepers from decking their stores with fairy lights on Eid, an activity they would wholeheartedly indulge in every year.

Saif Safdar, owner of a small store in Super Market, said he did not set up lights this Eid as he could not afford it. Recalling old times, he said “There was a time when plazas and buildings would be lit up on Eid and chand raat, but since the power crisis and rise in fuel prices, the enthusiasm has died down.

In light of the prevailing energy crisis in the country, the government has also ordered electricity conservation. Ahtisham Ali, an employee at Noor’s Enterprise, said that nowadays, lighting up a plaza means incurring a heavy burden as one has to pay hefty amounts for the generator’s fuel as electricity comes and goes when it pleases.

Chand raat promises substantial profit for businesses supplying fairy lights but businesses have seen their profits dip over the years. Shoaib Khan, owner of Khaild Lights in Islamabad, has been in the business for decades. For him, chand raat and Eid used to be the busiest time of the year as everyone, from shopkeepers to home owners, would want to decorate their buildings with lights. Reminiscing, he says they would be booked months in advance but since the past three years business has been going downhill. “I’m in contact with my counterparts, we are all facing the same problem” said Khan, adding that “Eid was a time when my staff would sacrifice their family holiday and work overtime to earn bonuses, but this year they have all returned to their villages.”

While shopkeepers lament loss of business, residents too share their sorrow over the mellowing down of Eid festivities. “I miss the times when girls could get together and go out on chand raat to see the city lit up” said Sehar Ahmed, a resident, adding that “Blue Area would be glowing when we we’d go out but it is not the same anymore.”

Another resident, Qasim Hussain, believes the scaling down of Eid festivities has to do with the deteriorating security situation and accompanying gloom it has cast over the nation. “People tend to stay indoors now, owing to the law and order situation,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.


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