THE tough economic climate prevailing in South Africa has not prevented Hindus from splurging out on Diwali.
Business is “booming” – that’s the feedback given by fireworks, clothing and sweetmeats merchants.
Some have even reported that they are no longer taking orders because demand for their products exceeds what they’re able to supply.
Owner of an home-based sweetmeats business, Satvik Sweetmeats, Prathna Singh, said business was “fantastic”.
“We have been so busy that we had to actually stop taking orders. We have people ordering up 40 to 50 kilo of sweetmeats, with the best-sellers being burfee and gulab jamun.
“I believe people still prefer to buy sweetmeats, as it is a tradition which they don’t want to break. With work constraints preventing people from baking their own goodies, they prefer to buy sweetmeats from shops.”
Singh, whose speciality is boxed sweetmeats, said she had already sold over 5 000 boxes .
“Treats @ Home owner, Ayub Patel, said he had to extend his operating hours owing to demand during the festival period.
People spend anywhere between R2 000 and R10 000 on sweetmeats.”
According to the owner ofthe 25-year-old the 25-year-old Soni Fireworks, Kireet Soni, trade at his Chatsworth shop is booming.
“This is a once-a-year event, and parents go the extra mile to make their children happy.
“The festival is all about family and children. Parents spend more on the colourful fountain fireworks rather than the nosiernoisier ones.”
Soni said fireworks were priced for the different budgets. He said buying in bulk earlier in the year at lower prices is what enabled him keep his prices low this Diwali season.
Mother of two, Varsha Reddy, 45, described Diwali as being a special part of the year for her family, and that a price couldn’t be placed on the day.
“We give preference to this festive and auspicious occasion and indulge in fireworks, home-deco and lights as well as sweetmeats and clothing.
“For this occasion, a budget has to be put aside and planning ahead is vital.”
Kimira Birbal, 20, and Samishka Singh, 22, the Miss India South Africa International runners-up for 2017 and 2018 respectively will don new outfits this Diwali.
However, the pair said that elements of the festival had become commercialised.
“We have to purchase new clothes of for Diwali each year which can be very expensive,” said Singh.
“But there are ways that we cut down on costs, like making our own sweetmeats. It’s much cheaper to bake sweetmeats yourself than purchase them. And that’s more traditional as well, it’s part of our culture,” Birbal said.
Shivanie Naidoo, 44, La Lucia said The essence of Diwali will always be huge festival despite the tough times and it is evident by the current shopping spree at the local shops.
Chief economist at Econometrix, Dr Azar Jammine, said many members of the local Indian community are able to spend more money because they have good jobswhich placed them in a better financial position.
“Because of better jobs most people in the local Indian community are not as affected by the current economic situation.
“I examined a study done a few years ago about the number of South African ‘dollar millionaires’.
“Indians feature more prominently than any other community. That is my theory“ I don’t believe spending a couple thousands for the festival would not cripple middle-class people who have decent jobs as such,” he said.