Bhogali Bihu sales far from good; moods not quite upbeat

GUWAHATI: As organisations in Assam keep the momentum of an ongoing movement for indigenous rights going, the Bhogali Bihu market so far has been at best lukewarm, if the trend ahead of uruka (the feasting night) is any indication.

By noon, the scene at Uzanbazar fish market, a destination many in the city prefer to come from far and take home the best stocks for savouring on the feasting night, resembled any normal day and not a much-sought-after point of sale.

“I have been selling fish since the past five decades now but have not seen such a tepid response on the eve of uruka. So much so that I have had to wait for about five hours to witness the first sale of the day.,” Ram Prasad Choudhury, a fish monger, rued.

But tomorrow might be a luckier day. “We don’t know what may happen tomorrow. But yes, there will be more people, right from 5am, and the rates are likely to go up according to the demand,” Choudhury said.

As it is, the size of the fish generally determines the price, which perhaps has not changed much from the earlier seasons.

“The bigger the fish, the tastier it is, and hence costlier. Today, we are selling a 15kg bhokua (catla) from the river for Rs 1500 per kg and chitol for Rs 1200 per kg. But since the quantity of fish that arrived today is less, the price is still high despite relatively lower demand,” Krishna Sah, another fish monger at the market, said.

While people have started flocking the pre-Bhogali Bihu markets that sell an assortment of Bihu snacking items, sales have dipped by about 50 to 60 per cent on an average.

“We have hardly sold 10 per cent of the stock that we ordered for Bhogali Bihu. It seems that the ongoing agitation has had some effect on public mood. But we are hoping that the market picks up by tomorrow,” said a retailer near the SAI complex at Paltan Bazar.

Even as the food and drugs administration department could not initiate a drive to check the quality of edible items sold in the markets ahead of the feasting festival, it had issued licenses to retailers.

Speaking to The Shillong Times on Monday, Tarun Das, senior food safety officer of the department, informed that the pre-Bihu checks did not happen this season as many officers were on duty at the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games in the city. “But we have already issued licenses to those retailers who had applied,” Das said.

However, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) is keeping an eye on the markets of the city from Monday to ensure quality of meat sold and to regulate the prices.

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