Kashmir celebrates a ‘silent’ Eid in solidarity with Gaza

SRINAGAR: This Eid, the sale of firecrackers in Kashmir was less by an estimated 60 percent over the last year, as the children desisted from bursting firecrackers in solidarity with their counterparts killed in Israel’s aggression over Gaza.
Abdul Rashid is one of the main dealers of firecrackers in the Valley, running his shop, a famed one, at Maharaja Bazaar here. His family business of manufacturing and selling firecrackers has been running for decades. Of late, however, he has restricted it to the sale of Chinese or Sri Lankan-made firecrackers as manufacture of firecrackers in the Valley has become difficult.
Last Eid-ul-Fitr, Rashid said he and his fellow businessmen had witnessed rush of customers purchasing bundles and bundles of firecracker; the market had been buzzing with activity way ahead of Eid. “But the demand for firecrackers has been noticeably low this year,” he said.
“We are witnessing the lowest turnout of customers. The vendors who retail the firecrackers didn’t turn up either. The sale was down by almost 60 percent this Eid,” Rashid told Kashmir Reader on Thursday.
“The main reason was that the people responded well to the religious and social groups’ call for not spending money on firecrackers. The call was given in response to what is happening in Gaza,” he said.
In the Valley, bursting of firecrackers has been the kids’ traditional, though controversial, way of celebrating Eid, making the firecracker business relevant during the holy festival celebrated twice every lunar year. When an armed insurgency against the Indian rule erupted in the Valley in 1989, the trade had dropped to its lowest. It, however, picked up during the recent years.
“This time we had not anticipated such a decline (in sale of firecrackers). Most vendors acted with caution as no one wants to invite public wrath by selling firecrackers,” Rashid said.
Over 1300 people, mostly children and women, have been killed in Israel’s offensive in Gaza in the past three weeks. The people in the Valley responded to the Israeli aggression by staging anti-Zionist and anti-US protests. In one such protests at Kulgam in south Kashmir last week, a youth was killed in the firing by CRPF troopers.
Subsequently, the pro-freedom leaders, religious figures, and the civil society in general had appealed people to celebrate Eid with austerity to express solidarity with the Gazans. Especially, the kids and traders were asked to desist from bursting and selling the firecrackers. And the impact of the call was evident during the Eid as otherwise deafening sound of bursting firecrackers was significantly less.
Another wholesale dealer of firecrackers at the Maharaj Gunj said even the new varieties of firecrackers failed to attract the customers.
“What happened in Gaza is definitely the main reason for low sales this year. But apart from it, the escalation in prices of the products could be the other reason (for decline in the sales),” the dealer, also named Abdul Rashid, said.
“The average price of firecrackers has gone up by almost 20 percent,” he said.
The disappointed dealers are preserving their unsold stock for Eid-ul-Zuha, which will be celebrated in about two and a half months. The storage, however, demands resources and caution as firecrackers happen to be inflammable.
“Hope we will achieve the target (sales) in the coming months,” they said.