Every country has one specific festival it identifies with age old customs. For Sri Lankans, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, or Avurudu, is one such festival.
As preparations for the New Year festival begins around the country, Daily News hit the street of Pettah to get the views of people and vendors about how they prepare for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
A common sight in Pettah is people flocking around street vendors, buying clothes and other goods, struggling to pick out the best items at the most affordable prices.
We asked a few shoppers about how they felt about the upcoming New Year celebrations. While some were satisfied with what they were able to purchase others had some grievances and complaints.
One shopper from Colombo stated that he was happy about his shopping at the Pettah market since he had managed to buy most of his essential goods. Another shopper from Wellawatte who was visiting Main Street said she bought gifts for all of her family members with enough to spare.
A shopper from Hanguranketha said “People are flocking to Pettah, because it is possible to buy goods from the Pettah Market for the cheapest price. I have arrived here for the same reason, while attending a meeting in the city.”
Another family from Kottawa who were checking out the clothes offered by a pavement hawker said, “We came to Pettah for shopping, we think there is a consolation for the people due to concessionary prices here.”
But among these shoppers are a few who have a different opinion about the market. A couple from Welisara said, “The prices are fair in Pettah but the Pamunuwa Market offers more concessionary rates for clothes and also has more items.”
A customer carrying heavy bag close to the same place said; “Lots have people have avoided Pettah this year. The prices of clothes has risen when compared to the previous years.”
"Overall we have noticed the crowd is less when compared to the past years in April," he said.
Moving on to the merchants, we find there are two different types of vendors in Pettah: One is the Street Vendor and the other is the Shop Owner.
The majority of Street Vendors who sell clothes said they had managed to make a good sale this year. When we inquired from a vendor of clothes he said: “Yes, we made a good sale since people are interested in buying clothes for cheap.
We sell clothes for cheapest.” Most of the other street vendors carried the same opinion.
The smile on their faces convinced us that sales were robust. But when we moved inside to inquire of Shop Owners the status of their sales, they did not seem happy:
“We do not have a good sale due to pavement hawkers outside our shops," they said. They sell substandard products for the cheapest prices and that people are keen to buy these products is a real tragedy.”
Many shops owners agreed that street vendors are a major obstacle to their sales.
They said the government should take note of the substandard products sold by street vendors and take steps to maintain a uniform quality of product.
When asked why there were less customers at Pettah this April New Year or Avurudu season, they hazarded the guess that financial difficulties were the main reasons for the absence of people at the Pettah Market.
Warm weather too, was a major deterrent they added. Despite this conflict in opinion, the bustling street promotions, crowded streets and the noise of sales hawking convince us that most people, if not all, are looking forward to the New Year with enthusiasm, and because we know Sri Lankan we know they will put aside all differences and celebrate a New Year in peace and harmony!