Bengaluru: Kite sales nosedive, vendors in the doldrums | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: This time last year, Sheikh Altaf, had already sold 5,000 kites. This year, with just three days left for Sankranthi, Altaf, who runs ‘Bombay Kite Centre’, a 27-year-old store in Shivajinagar, Bengaluru, has not made even a single sale.
“The fall in business, which began with Demonetisation in 2016, has only gotten worse with the pandemic,” Altaf said. “When people don’t have enough to eat, how will they purchase kites? The whole market is down.”
Altaf specialises in paper kites and has already purchased stock from Delhi, Bareilly, and Gujarat. He hopes sales will pick up, but he fears he’s staring at a loss of Rs 3 lakh if things don’t improve. “I’m making ends meet with the help of agricultural land in my village near Tumakuru,” he said.
Like Altaf, other kite sellers in Bengaluru are seeing a steep fall in demand owing to the pandemic. Many took to kite flying during the lockdown, but vendors say it has not helped much. They feel the UK strain of the virus is also discouraging people from visiting markets.
Sabir Hussain, a second-generation owner of ‘Barkath Kite Centre’, a 40-year-old store in Shivajinagar, says the business is down by 80% and if the downturn continues, he may not be able to provide for his family. “I’ve hardly sold 400 kites till now. Last year, I sold more than 5,000. People are scared to venture out due to the pandemic. Hopefully, a vaccine will bring us better days,” he said.
Srinivas Kumar S, owner of Swastik Kites in Rajajinagar, says business is down 50%. “This time of the year, I generally would have five to eight customers every day. But I had just three today,” he said, adding kite flying is popular among the Gujarati community during the celebrations of Uttarayan. “Most from the community have returned home and that has hit business.”
Encouraged kite-flying

Srinivas though believes the overall kite flying scene has improved after the lockdown. “Several people took to kite flying as a hobby,” he said. “A techie told me regular kite flying helped him exercise his neck and arms and gave him an opportunity to bask in the sunlight. When lockdown rules eased, demand for kites shot up and we had a scarcity of material. We buy stock from Assam, UP and Gujarat and we faced difficulties acquiring stock. However, the lockdown turned kite flying from a seasonal event into a year-long hobby for many.” Keerthan Vignesh RP, a kiteflying enthusiast agrees. He says there are many who are still interested in flying kites.
However, Shankar K, an art student, is one of the many who will avoid flying kites this year. “Buying kites used to be an annual affair for my group of seven friends. But five of them are out of the city, so I don’t think it will happen this year,” he said. “Also, I’m scared of stepping outside my home. We should stop behaving as if the pandemic is over.”

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Sagar Biswas

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