After restricting themselves to their shells for months amid the outbreak of the pandemic, the citizens of Kolkata are now setting aside the fear of the coronavirus and flocking to the city markets and malls to shop for the forthcoming Durga Puja, which is barely two weeks away.
Less than a month ago, the city markets wore a deserted look. The stall owners and hawkers in New Market, Gariahat and Hatibagan spent days longing for adequate income. However, the Puja fervour has brought the bustle back to these markets. Many market places in Kolkata are witnessing a surge in footfall with each passing day. There is hardly any distinction between the festive shopping fervour of the people of the city in the ‘Covid Year’ and the pre-pandemic times, except that many shoppers are sporting masks. The Puja shopping destinations including New Market, Hatibagan and Gariahat are flooded with Puja shoppers who want to live their earlier life once more, at least during the festival.
“For the last six months, our earlier life including ‘adda’ with friends, shopping or dining out with family, almost became a dream,” said Sneha Gupta, a shopper at New Market. “During the upcoming Pujas, I want to relive my earlier life. Although the shopping is restricted due to budget constraint, I want to rejoice afresh and do away with the gloom brought by the pandemic with whatever I have,” added the 26-year-old student of Calcutta University.
The rush for the Puja shopping has come as a blessing to the shop and stall owners along with hawkers of the city markets.
“After a long time, I earned a good amount on a single day,” said an elated stall owner at New Market. “If the trend continues, it will bring us some respite from the losses that have badly hit us in the last few months,” added the apparel seller.