Devika Dutt

One morning, as soon as I opened my newspaper, I was overwhelmed by the barrage of various, seemingly unrelated advertisements of diamond jewellery, mobile phones, ipods, cards, chocolates etc. A closer examination revealed a common link; all of them suggested “special gifts” for sisters on Raksha Bandhan. I immediately sprung into action. One look at the “special gifts” served as the impetus I needed to expedite the Rakhee mailing process, which I had otherwise completely forgotten. God bless the Festival industry!

As is evident nowadays, most festivals have been completely commercialized. Love or hate the fact, you certainly cannot ignore it. It makes perfect business sense as well. We Indians like to celebrate almost everything, from birthdays of a few hundred gods to familial ties, from homecoming   from exile to the evil hag dying in the fire instead of the innocent hero. All these celebrations generally entail huge amounts of expenditure on gifts and other rituals. So it was only a matter of time before entrepreneurs saw a promising new market in Indian celebrations. And they have capitalized, in every sense of the word, on our tendency to celebrate. Take raksha bandhan for example. Apart from the gifts mentioned above, other bizarre things like gold rakhis also take over the market before raksha bandhan.

Firms have also capitalized on the fact that convenience sells. So there are also several quick ways of sending gifts all over the world. So, while about a decade ago, brothers had to go visit sisters on rakhi to celebrate raksha bandhan, now a click of the mouse or the dialing of a number can do it. Various services give consumers the choice of sending gifts, both conventional and off- beat, anywhere in the world. Gifts include traditional puja thalis, candles on diwali, traditional mithai, flowers, electronic gadgets and packages like spa treatments. This has obviously worked as people find it difficult to visit other cities on every festival.

Certain capitalist enterprises have also single handedly introduced non- religious, international observances like Mothers’ Day and have completely established those times of the year as good times for business. This way, they have capitalized on the globalized Indian, who wouldn’t mind adopting a more western holiday.  As most of these holidays are dedicated to a person, it gives us an extra opportunity of telling how much that person means to us. Who would mind telling their father that he is special and loved on Fathers’ Day. Of course it isn’t just restricted to telling him that. They can be accompanied by all kind of presents- wacky, thoughtful, self made, expensive, useful- but all of them are likely to fill the coffers of the people who in a way brought these holidays to India. And the most amazing part is that internationally, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Friendship Day, Daughters’ Day etc have no particular date associated with it. So it is, in a way, decided by gift shops as to when these days are. Like Mothers’ Day is celebrated in India on the second Sunday of May, it is celebrated in Norway in February, in April in Nepal and so on.

So gift shop chains have completely established themselves, spread their tentacles all over the country and gripped India tightly so as to earn maximum revenue by capitalizing on human emotions. After all, it’s just good business!