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Will Kolkata’s Tibetan woollen market survive climate change and vanishing winter?

20 September, 2019 02:07:01
Will Kolkata’s Tibetan woollen market survive climate change and vanishing winter?

Every year as winter dawns upon the City of Joy, Kolkata decks up in a variety of hues, from flower shows to Christmas on Park Street, from oven baked fresh cakes selling at every street shop to crowds at the zoo and parks. But winter was also about generations buying colourful woollens from pashmina shawls to stitched cardigans from an annual market set up by refugee Tibetans at Wellington Square of Kolkata. This annual winter market was so popular once a upon a time that even people from districts came to buy. Unfortunately, with the vanishing winters in Kolkata and Bengal, thanks to global warming and also flourishing shopping malls selling all brands of winterwear, the Tibetan or Bhutia market as it was known as has lost its sheen largely. 

Around 250 Tibetan families have come this winter too, from the cold hills to earn on the plains. But they too know this year the sales will be pretty low just like it was for the last couple of years. The market had always done brisk business in the city for last 70 years, but no more. Usually these vendors come to the city with their woollens around November and stay till January doing business of around 2,000 per day per shop. Vihaan Malhotra who was a regular at these shops picking up a good jacket or a woolen cap for his son feels: ‘I no more find the crowd. These days Kolkata hardly has winter, so no one is buying new woollens anymore.’

As per the Bhutia shopowners, sales have dipped drastically and they are hit hard because most of them take loans to hoard woollens worth lakhs. And if they are not sold, let alone profits, they will be not be able to recover their investment too. The colourful fare is attractive, with sweaters and jackets hanging all around. They are warm and attractive but can hardly attract customers who wish to keep them warm. As there is hardly any need to keep warm these days! Will this iconic Kolkata annual winter market vanish one day?

 

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