Pumpkins steal the limelight from crackers in Chittoor

This year may have seen a few takers for crackers during Deepavali, but unusually, what stole the limelight this time were pumpkins, lemons and coconuts.

These are the items that people use to ward off the evil eye, also called ‘dishti’ locally.

Those performing the ritual at commercial outlets and households admitted that they haven’t witnessed such a zeal to perform the ritual in their career. Such an enthusiasm is directly attributed to the COVID-19 scenario.

In tune with the rising demand, the prices of these items also spiralled in the last two days. A moderate sized pumpkin was sold at ₹100, and the range went up beyond ₹250. A small-sized coconut too had commanded ₹30 a piece, followed by a lemon at ₹5.

Guravaiah (70) of Nagari, on the job of “dishti remover” for four decades, said he broke pumpkins and coconuts for as many as 15 shops and 32 households between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. “It is the highest figure in my career so far,” he said.

The reason, for such heightened activity this time, was rooted to the pandemic. Till October, people had to confine themselves to their home and give a miss to major festivals.

“With COVID-19 unlock series almost complete, followed by remarkable drop in the virus cases, the public are once again on the track. With the fear of things going bad again still lingering in their hearts, people are praying for revival of businesses. Deepavali is the best time to perform the ritual,” said Ravi Shankar, a priest in Pakala village.

A police officer in Puttur sub-division, which usually witnesses huge crowds crossing into Tamil Nadu to purchase crackers, observed: “We are happy that in this year Deepavali saw breaking of more pumpkins and coconuts, than bursting of crackers,” he said.


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