Among peacock feathers, diced designs and Swastika, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Baahubali star Prabhas are trending this Rakshabandhan season in Tripura. A single piece of the ‘Modi-rakhi’ sells for Rs 10, while the ‘Baahubali-rakhi’ is a bit costlier and is priced at Rs 15. However, many traders feel politicizing Rakhi is a bad idea.
Rakshabandhan or Rakhi is an annual ritual widely practised in different South East Asian countries. It involves tying a thread or a talisman on the wrist as a symbol of protection. The festival of Rakshabandhan falls on the day of Shravan Purnima or the full moon day of the month of Shravana.
Call it marketing or politicizing, Rakshabandhan has seen colours since ages. Rakhis with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s photo on them have been sold on the footpaths of Bengal and those with Prime Minister Modi’s picture in Delhi in the previous years.
However, the advent of this style in Tripura is rather new. Buyers and sellers feel it might be influenced by the change of guard in the state government.
“We saw such individualized Rakhis earlier in Kolkata and Delhi. Wholesale businessmen sell these in gross quantities there. But the Modi Rakhi is new to Tripura,” Prashanta Saha of Battala market here told indianexpress.com.
Saha has been selling Rakhi for the last 16 years. He feels Modi-rakhis are a bit of craze among youngsters. This Rakhi is like any other but has a picture of Prime Minister Modi superimposed on lotus – the BJP party symbol.
“I brought three packets of 144 rakhi pieces in each. Now I have only 75 pieces left. People have purchased Modi-rakhis like hot cakes. I think such innovative ideas should be encouraged,” he said.
Tanmoy Roy, a student of Maharaja Bir Bikram College here, was seen buying a couple of Modi rakhis. He said Prime Minister Modi is the face of new India and people should embrace him more for development of the country. Modi-rakhis are welcome to the young generation, Tanmoy said.
Mithun Barman, a trader of Hawkers’ Corner market, however, feels that Rakhi is a cultural symbol and has a proud tradition of freedom struggle behind it, which should not be politicized in any way.
“Rakhi should be let alone as a rakhi. Showing the face of Modi on Rakhi is a stunt. How many people will buy these?” he asked. Barman didn’t put up any Modi-rakhis for sale in his stall.
Maharajganj Bazaar, commonly known as Golbazaar, is the largest market of Agartala and one of the biggest wholesale trade centers of Tripura. Narayan Bhuiyan, owner of Seema Trading House, is a wholesale businessman at Golbazaar who sold Rakhi for last 37 years. He feels business is down since the BJP-IPFT government assumed office in Tripura on March 09 this year.
“First there was demonetization and now people complain about having no money on them since new government took over. Business is very bad. I don’t think anybody will be much interested about Modi Rakhis,” a visibly uninterested Bhuiyan said. He added that he didn’t see Rakhi with any leader or celebrity’s face on it in his long business career.
Girdhar Saha, another businessman at Maharajganj Bazaar, says he has ‘Baahubali rakhis’ for sale. “There is always some trend or the other in Rakshabandhan. These come and wither away. I have seen Modi rakhis but haven’t put them up. I have got rakhis with Doremon, Pokemon, Chhota Bheem and Baahubali images. All of these cost Rs. 10 a piece,” Girdhar said.
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