Agra/ Mathura/ Vrindavan: The whole of Braj Mandal, comprising districts of Agra, Mathura and Firozabad is on a new high this festival season with markets flooded with newer products, the frenzy witnessed in some popular markets showed the buoyancy of mood and festival spending, despite shrinking family budgets.
Automobile dealers of most popular brands said the sales were encouraging, almost comparable to last year's. The jewellers too were happy with the sales. "This Diwali, the overall sales were definitely better than in previous years," said Abhushan jewellery shop owner Mayank Agarwal. The traditional markets in Agra, Kinari Bazar, Fountain, and the newer ones in Sanjay Place, MG Road, were attractively lit. Sadar Bazar was the chief focus of celebrations with the whole market lit up.
In Mathura the main market from Dwarkadheesh Temple to Holi Gate dazzles with lights and a striking range of consumer products attractively displayed to lure the consumers. Vrindavan is buzzing with intense emotional buildup as Sri Krishna Bhakts not only from India but hordes of foreigners have been making a beeline at various religious sites associated with Sri Krishna folklore. The Braj Chaurasi kos Yatra (covering a distance of almost 200 kms on foot around Mathura) began a few days ago from Mathura's Vishram Ghat where special pujas were organized. The religious fervor in Goverdhan hill town, 25 kms from Mathura is at its peak.
District authorities in Mathura are particularly anxious after reports of a massive influx of pilgrims expected for the ritualistic Yamuna Snan on Yam Dwitiya parva, two days after Diwali. Brothers and sisters jointly take a holy dip in the river to be free of the shackles of Yamraj whose sister is Yamuna. Meanwhile, expecting huge festival rush, the state run Roadways has made additional arrangement for transportation, deploying hundreds of buses to ferry pilgrims between Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan.
Security arrangements have been tightened in Firozabad, Mainpuri and Etah also after disturbing reports of anti-social elements and some terrorist outfits.
Meanwhile, Agra markets reported brisk business last two days in anticipation of the Diwali festivities. The new malls on Fatehabad Road are all decked up and organizing contests in collaboration with FM channels to attract the consumers. The main bazars on MG Road and Sanjay Place Commercial complex are attractively lit. The automobiles showrooms on the Delhi Agra highway are expecting to sell at least 400 vehicles this season, according to a Maruti dealer. The market for jewellery, clothes and other consumer durables has picked up momentum after a lull start last week.
Flowers and vegetables continue to be hit by price rise. The mithai and gift shops have been working overtime to meet the demand pressure. "Dry fruits and chocolates are the flavor of the season, but we have special mithais this season with some latest shapes and tastes," says owner of Bhagat Sweets, 200- old halwai shop of Agra.
Another note of cheer this time around is the "exceptionally good tourist season that began early October despite many hiccups." The market economy has moved into smaller towns as well like Tundla, Shamshabad, Fatehabad all flooded with consumer products including Chinese lights.