Lower prices lure Dashain shoppers to Indian towns

- Madhav Dhungana, SHANKAR ACHARYA, BHAIRAHAWA / BIRGUNJ

Oct 5, 2016-

Nepalis living along the border with India have been streaming to nearby Indian towns to do their festival shopping as the country’s biggest religious celebration Dashain gets underway.

From daily essential commodities to electric appliances, and from textiles to spices, goods are comparatively cheaper south of the border which attracts customers from even long distances. 

Khema Kumari Bashyal, 54, of Syangja said she stayed at her relatives on Monday so that she could go shopping in Sunauli, India, a key shopping destination which lies across the border from Bhairahawa. 

“There were other 21 other people with me who have come to Bhairahawa from Syangja to shop in Sunauli,” she said. Bashyal said that she had spent Rs18,000 on her Dashain shopping. 

Sunauli receives crowds of Nepali shoppers throughout the year; but during Dashain, the crowds swell into hordes. 

“Sunauli not only attracts shoppers from Bhairahawa, Butwal and surrounding districts but from as far away as Kathmandu, Pokhara and Narayangadh,” said the proprietor of Sharma General Stores in Sunauli. “Sugar is something that every shopper buys here.” 

According to the store, the most sought after items are clothes. Although there are no official statistics about shoppers travelling to India, estimates put the number of people crossing the border at more than 5,000 daily. They spend an estimated Rs50 million daily, according to Nepali entrepreneurs. 

“It’s difficult to ascertain the number of Nepali shoppers. But during the Dashain shopping spree, shops on the Nepal side of the border wear a deserted look,” said Ram Kumar Sharma, president of the Siddhartha Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  

Likewise, Nepali shoppers have started thronging Raxaul, a shopping destination in India which lies across the border from Birgunj in the central Tarai. Raxaul was severely affected by the month-long Tarai unrest during the Dashain festival last year, but shoppers are in an upbeat mood this year.   

Dinesh Kumar Dhanautiya, secretary of the Shops and Appeal Retailers Association in Raxaul, said that the Raxaul market had not yet recovered from the downturn last year.

“Although business has picked up from the disappointing performance last year, the number of Nepali shoppers coming to Raxaul is still small compared to past years.” 

There are nearly 200 textile shops and a similar number of retail stores in Raxaul. “In the past, the Raxaul market used to witness transactions worth 

more than Rs10 million daily. But this year, business has plunged 75 percent,” said Dhanautiya. He added that 90 percent of the customers in Raxaul were from Nepal.

Traders said that shoppers had also been discouraged from 

hopping across the border to do their shopping as customs and police in Nepal had been checking the goods brought by travellers very strictly.

Published: 05-10-2016 08:08

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