From flare guns to Sunny Deol’s hammer: Unconventional Holi accessories make waves in Sadar Bazaar

- March 24, 2024
| By : Kushan Niyogi |

Ahead of Holi, shopkeepers of Asia’s largest domestic goods wholesale market say the footfall has been comparatively less compared to last year 

HIGH HOPES: Shopkeeper waiting for customers after setting up the shop at Sadar Bazaar

Crowds thronged the narrow streets of what would usually be a regular Saturday thoroughfare, hoping to lay their hands on the best water pistols to arm themselves for the battleground of Holi.

The Holi market had everything stored within to captivate even the most discerning customer, not only water pistols but also a myriad of accessories ranging from the traditional tube-operated water gun to aerosol cans with purple sprays.

However, according to Ramlal Gupta, a journalist who doubles as one of the vendors during Holi, the market has dulled since last year. “Each year we set up the shop and eventually turn up a profit. However, this time around, there has not been enough footfall. I have not been getting any customers since I opened the shop today,” he said. His most prized ware was a massive water gun with an elongated nose and widened hull, fashioned similar to an enormous Jedi Blaster from Star Wars, which was priced at Rs 550.

A similar situation was narrated by another shopkeeper who wanted to remain anonymous as he said that most people who visit the market stop at the opening and do not explore further. “We have sold nothing since morning. Nobody comes here to this side. This is something new. Last year, there was no problem like this and the crowd was also much bigger,” he said.

HOLI SPREAD: Colour packets, spray boxes lined up with sweets at a shop

However, other shopkeepers who had placed their shops near the market’s opening had much to be pleased about. Asif Ali kept playing with a hammer. He had already sold three cartons of Sunny Deol ka hathoda(Sunny Deol’s hammer) within an hour, and he was preparing for much more. “Each carton has 25 pieces, and I have sold three of them. It’s not like people are not coming. They are looking for innovation. Children can use it for Holi, and afterwards, they can turn it into a toy as well,” he said. The hathoda has been priced at Rs 100.

Mohammed Qazi Qureshi, another shopkeeper flummoxed by the number of people who had started showing up by midday, narrated how the inflation in the prices of goods had also kept people away from the festival this time around. “Not many would budge to pay at the prices that we are selling at this year. It’s a dramatic shift from the previous year. However, people are still coming to our shops, albeit with a few more abuses,” he said as he passed through his collection of pichkaris, and winged out a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) branded water gun. It was the only shop selling this variant of the water gun. The pichkari was selling for Rs 150.

On the other hand, Shyam Meena, a shopkeeper who had placed his shop right across Qureshi’s, had devised a strategy with a flare gun. Loading the flare gun with a cartridge of sorts, Meena gestured with his hands, depicting the loading and unloading of the flare with elegance. He kept the flare gun’s cost less than the pack of cartridges, with the former priced at Rs 100 while the latter was priced at Rs 250 for a pack of four. Shahrukh Ali, who had kept his wares right at the entrance to the market, was ready to conquer the day with a range of colours — rose, dark green, silver, gold, and dirt-coloured.

“Rose-coloured is in great demand. The silver and gold colours with the shimmer are mostly bought by young people to play pranks with their friends,” he said.