The Navratri festival,marketed as the worlds longest dance performance by Gujarat tourism,just got shorter because of heavy showers that continued due to a prolonged monsoon.
Organised by the state government,Vibrant Navratri at Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation grounds saw a footfall of 50,000 on the inaugural day. It was cancelled on Tuesday the second day in a row. With over 15 sponsors,the government is tightlipped about the financial loss due to cancellation. We have not really looked at the quantum of losses. While we have managed to drain out the water on ground,the electrical equipment are still wet and safety is a huge concern. We are trying to see if the venue can be worked on,but chances are slim, said Sanjay Kaul,MD of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited.
The rains played spoilsport in Vadodara too. Patrons of United Way of Baroda,which sold passes to male participants for Rs 2,500 each this year,were miffed as the organisers refused to refund the money. On Tuesday,most garba grounds remained waterlogged. Although most organisers said that they have not calculated the loss due to rains,each garba ground which has over 10,000 footfalls a day has at least Rs 20 lakh at stake this festive season.
Rajesh Mehta,president of Baroda IT Association,said,We go through an entire process of taking permissions,getting sponsors and putting together an event. After all the gruelling work if the events are called off because of rains,it certainly dampens the mood. Every big garba organiser has at least Rs 15 to 20 lakh riding on the event. If it fails totally,they will lose a lot. According to Mehta,the cancellation on Sunday at the famous United Way of Baroda garba meant excess footfall at BITA ground. We had about 40,000 people at our venue due to cancellation at Gorwa. Usually about 20,000 people are present on a day here, he added.
Manoj Patel of Karelibaug Sports and Cultural Association in Vadodara said that despite efforts,the ground remained waterlogged on Tuesday. We have returned money for stall bookings as it is unfair to them that our patrons are not turning up, said Patel. The Karelibaug event sees a minimum of 12,000 footfalls every day.
Organisers in Ahmedabad and Vadodara say that rains have come at a time when sponsors are difficult to come by due to economic slowdown. An Ahmedabad-based garba organiser said,Usually telecom and real estate companies sponsor Navratri events with telecom companies investing as much as Rs 12 lakh for the nine days. This time,their contribution has gone down to Rs 4-5 lakh. One will not hear of many cancellations as many of the local organisers have not even held garba events owing to anticipation of less footfall due to economic slowdown.
According to Jaydeep Mehta,CMD of True Events,said,Of the 10 high-profile garbas organised on the SG Highway not one has been cancelled and all are going ahead with the show because they have lawns and not ground which are easier to dry. The ticket window has,however,suffered losses of at least Rs 2 lakh a day as footfalls are down by 50 per cent on weekdays.