Pune: Marketplaces in the main city like Raviwar Peth and suburban areas witnessed huge crowds on Friday evening as citizens stepped out to buy Ganesh idols and other decorative material to celebrate Ganeshotsav starting from Saturday (August 22) at their homes.
Domestic celebrations are as grand as the public Ganeshotsav in Pune. Ganpati Bappa is welcomed with enthusiasm at home. Along with a beautiful Ganesh idol, decoration material and other items are purchased from the market and brought home. This year, due to COVID-19, there are restrictions on celebrating Ganeshotsav and citizens are aware that crowding in the market can lead to contracting the risk of infection.
There was an unusual calm in the market on Friday morning despite only 24 hours left for Ganeshotsav to begin. Customers stepped out in the afternoon. Most of them rushed to take the Ganesh idols home from the stalls. Big crowds were seen in the suburbs along with the main marketplaces like Raviwar Peth etc.
There is a high demand for puja material, fruits and flowers. This made it impossible for shopkeepers and customers to follow the norms of social distancing. Yet citizens were trying to keep a safe distance on their own. However, consumers have turned their backs on other decorative and bamboo materials.
Ganesh Idol seller Sushant Sanas said, "There is a huge demand for medium-sized shadu Ganesh idols as citizens are required to immerse their Ganesh idols at home this year. These idols are usually priced at Rs 700 to Rs 1,800. Plaster of Paris (POP) idols are also available in smaller sizes. Consumers tend to buy idols which are a replica of Sharda Gajanan, Lalbagh and Guruji Talim."
Vitthal Mohite of Burud Aali, who manufactures decorative materials from bamboo, said, "The footfall of customers is less this year. We have only 30 per cent business this year as compared to last year. We have to offer decorative material at a discounted price to convince customers to buy it.
Customers with booking allotted time slots
Anticipating large crowds for buying Ganesh idols, some citizens had already booked the idol. Mobile numbers of each other were noted down by the sellers and customers. Customers called the sellers after which they were given a particular time slot to take their Ganesh idols home in order to avoid crowding. Customers and idol sellers found this system mutually convenient.