Like every other festival, Diwali, too, has a backstory that explains the reason behind its grandeur. Families follow myriad customs. These customs, over a period of time, get modified. Corporatisation of various rituals has somewhere led to robbing the festival of its pristine charm. This grand festival is no more about its divinity but all about flaunting money power.
In this frenetic age of E-commerce, a majority of people prefer making festival purchases online. The growing purchasing power and rising influence of the social media have enabled Indian consumers to splurge on good things.
To cash in on this fad, E-commerce giants offer attractive discounts to augment their customer base. “Obviously this season is our biggest. People save up the whole year to be able to spend lavishly during Diwali. About 60 per cent of our sales happen during this season”, said a Flipkart employee (requesting anonymity). “Our flash sales are nothing but a boon for the buyers out there. We put everything on sale for a reason”, he added.
Diwali, these days is associated with such Diwali Dhamaka sales and offers, where the retail industry does all it can to woo the customers. It has merely become an occasion where people wait to shop till they drop. “Diwali is incredible. It always creates a new normal. Typically, one would expect such a traffic surge to dip after Diwali. It goes down by five to 10 per cent and from there we build our growth for next year”, said Anand Chandrasekaran, Chief Product Officer Snapdeal, when asked about their business model when they offer such overwhelming discounts to the customers.
“I love the big billion sales. They are the best. Who would have thought that shopping for Diwali gifts would become so difficult”, said Mansi Taneja, an avid online shopper. While some consider E-commerce a boon, others curse it for taking away the festival’s charm. “Back in our days, Diwali was about going out with my parents and shopping for everyone. We used to spend an entire weekend getting gifts for relatives and decorating our house for visitors”, said Neelima Prakash, a homemaker.
What we now experience is the world that functions smoothly because of its constant money fueling. Diwali has now become an excuse to splurge and show-off financial might. Earlier there used to be an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends which still exists but with a difference.
“This festival is all about ‘who gives a better gift”, said Deepti Agarwal, a New Delhi resident.
“People come to us asking for hampers and packaging that ‘looks rich’. Some even tell us to put cheap confectioneries but make the hamper look royal, in order to save money”, said Ramlal, a Nathu Sweets employee. The cost of some hampers varies from Rs 500 to as much as Rs 10,000.
“Earlier, people purchased gold and costly clothes only during marriages because they could afford it once in a while. Nowadays, people gift gold coins as if they were sold loose on the street”, said Mansingh Tanwar, a resident in Old Delhi.
Festival season is now synonymous with shopping season and this is evident among all sections of society. “Festivals days should be about family bonding. Children should be explained the importance of that day. They should be motivated to donate to the poor,” Tanwar added.
Back in the days, festivals used to be all about devotion. These days people lack devotion and it is nothing but crass commercialisation. For instance, Diwali used to be about cheer and fairs.
Today it is all about card parties, loud music and firecrackers. Festivals in India are celebrated by one and all irrespective of their social or economic status. But over the years, as modernisation and globalisation have swept over our country, and in every single festival tradition often takes a backseat.
In a recognition of India’s growing global clout, even the White House started celebrating Diwali a decade back with several Global Indians.Diwali is supposed to lead us to the light of knowledge from the darkness of ignorance. But diyas and candles have made way for artificial lights, so much so that diyas too have evolved and become ‘electric diyas’.
The warmth of this festival seems to have disappeared. Gifts are exchanged not between friends, relatives or neighbours but only between corporates and business partners in order to strike ‘ sweet deals’ in the coming year.
For the salaried, Diwali is the time to receive your bonus where one spends it lavishly on shopping and entertainment. Big Bollywood banners set their sights on Diwali releases, because it’s the best time to mint money.
Delhi-based distributor, Sanjay Ghai, who believes that Eid is more profitable for massy films and Diwali, Christmas for family entertainers, votes for the Diwali period too. “Over the years, a number of theatres, especially multiplexes, has increased. Also, many people indulge in Diwali shopping while others believe in relaxing during the holidays. This is where box office hits come into making”, he said.
The main ideology behind celebrating festivals is to bring people of different customs and traditions under one roof and to reinforce our unity. It is the time to share love and happiness with the unprivileged and to spread the message of fraternity and peace. But the present trend has changed people. We have become more materialistic and festivals provide an excuse for mindless shopping, preparing delicious food and going out to fancy restaurants and splurge.
It’s saddening to see that India’s rich ancient culture and rituals have been cornered to such an extent. Who cares about diyas? It’s all about getting the best deal on E-shopping portals this Diwali.
''Obviously this season is our biggest. People save up the whole year to be able to spend well during Diwali. About 60 per cent of our sales flourish during this season. Our flash sales are nothing but a boon for the buyers out there. We put everything on sale for a reason''- - Flipkart employee
''People come to us asking for hampers and packaging that ‘looks rich’. Some even tell us to put cheap confectioneries but make the hamper look royal, in order to save money. These hampers vary from being priced at Rs 500 to as much as Rs 10,000 per piece''-Ramlal,
Nathu Sweets employee
''Festivals days should be enjoyed as days of oneness. Children should be explained the importance of that day. They should be motivated to donate to the poor. Enjoyment, eating and service can make a real festival for all of us''- - Mansingh Tanwar, resident, Old Delhi