Colourful paper quadrilaterals will take the Goods and Services Tax literally to the sky this festive season with a huge demand for kites carrying GST images along with that of Prime Minister Narenrda Modi.
Giving tough competition to the kites carrying GST and Modi images are that of Bollywood heart-throbs and cartoon characters.
While kite flying is popular on Independence Day in many cities in the north, in Jammu region kite flying is also a part of the festivities on Rakshabandhan and Janamasthami.
The fervour associated with upcoming Independence day celebrations is visible in the market.
"I have been in the kite business for several decades but introduction of kites with images of the Prime Minister, superstars and famous cartoon characters have enhanced sales manifold," Rakesh Chibber, a shopkeeper in the old city’s Pacca Dunga area, told PTI.
Chibber said kites with pictures of Modi and his popular slogans 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', ‘Swachh Bharat’ and 'Make in India' campaign are a big attraction for BJP workers and its supporters.
The shopkeeper, who imports kite material from Delhi, and himself makes the kites before putting them on sale, said kites priced between Rs one and Rs 250 a piece are available in the market.
“The newly introduced GST regime has no impact on our business. We are doing a brisk business like yesteryears?” he said.
Chibber said he got the material for the kites before implementation of GST but “how things will settle down after the complete transition of the new regime is to be seen.”
Colourful kites are dotting many shops in the market area with children stocking themselves with kites of various sizes and designs.
“It is our day tomorrow and we are going to fly the kites for the whole day,” a group of children at shops in Talab Tillu camp area said.
They said kite-flying on the occasion of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is a tradition in the city and “we are doing it from our childhood days”.
Chibber said his sales are usually restricted to around 8000 to 10,000 kites per season but given the rush and the mood of the people he is expecting a bumper sale this year. Amit Sharma, who runs a cosmetic and gift items shop, has shifted to kite selling temporarily.
“Kites are selling like hot cakes on the eve of Raksha Bandhan. The tradition helps us to make some money,” he said.
He said kites with images of cartoon characters like Bheem, Doremon, Tom and Jerry, and Barbie are very popular among children.
Sharma said the sale of bigger designer kites are also in demand with several customers looking for ‘giant kites’ as well.
Tarun, another shopkeeper, said the Chinese thread, which was banned by the government, has been replaced by local thread.
Police have launched a massive drive in the city to discourage use of Chinese thread after the government imposed ban on its purchase and sale last year following an outcry over several incidents of people getting critically injured after coming in contact with the thread.
“We have launched a special drive over the past fortnight in the markets dealing with kites to ensure strict implementation of the ban on Chinese thread,” a police officer said.
He said the thread is not available in the open market. "We have been keeping watch and if anyone is found selling the banned thread, appropriate action in accordance with the law will be taken against him or her," the officer said.