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Sunday, January 29, 2023

    How’s The Josh? High! Tricolour Sellers Eye Republic Day Market In Guwahati


    A day ahead of Republic Day, the city started bustling with hawkers and vendors who ditched their regular business for the tricolour 

    Guwahati, January 25, 2019

    Shaheed Pronamo Tomak – Kalyan Goswami knows this immortal patriotic song, composed and sung by Bhupen Hazarika, by heart. Goswami, a man in his late fifties, grew up listening to tales of freedom movement from his father and grandfather. His wrinkled face carries the stories and emotions of his forefathers who witnessed the independence struggle in India more closely in the year 1947.

    Goswami too wanted to “serve the country” but “some dreams remain unfulfilled”. He repairs bicycle on “regular days” but on January 25, January 26 and August 15, Goswami “dedicates” himself “to the service of the nation” and turns tricolour seller.  “I will remain extremely busy these two days. I want all the citizens to hoist the tricolour with pride tomorrow on the occasion of Republic Day. Given what is going on in Assam today…one should hoist the national flag as high as he can,” said Goswami. He has placed his stall near the Hotel Gateway Grandeur, Christian Basti, Guwahati.

    The Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on January 26, 1950, replacing the Government of India Act as the governing document of India.

    “Tricolour caps, tiny tricolour badges, car accessories, stickers, wrist bands and of course flags are available in my stall. I sell only paper and cloth flags. This tricolour is the pride of the country,” he added, as he greets his customers.

    Kalyan Goswami busy decorating his stall at Christian Basti, Guwahati. Photo courtesy: Pranati Sinha

    Patriotic streak

    Goswami, a resident of Ananda Nagar in Christian Basti area in Guwahati, said he started selling tricolours two years back. “My father used to do the same…this is the least, I can do for my country.”

    Flags displayed at Kalyan Goswami’s stall at Christian Basti, Guwahati. Photo courtesy: Pranati Sinha

    “My father always asked me to serve my country as and when I can, in whatever capacity I can. I wanted to join the armed forces but couldn’t do so.  Since the last two years, I pull down the shutters of my garage for two days on the occasion of the Independence Day and Republic Day and sell the symbols of patriotism,” said Goswami.

    A customer at a roadside vendor selling tricolour and other paraphernalia. Photo courtesy: Pranati Sinha

    Tricolour sells like hot cakes

    Following the government’s ban on plastic-made tricolour, the market is flooded with paper and cloth flags ahead of Republic Day. Markets in the city wore a festive look on the occasion of the Republic Day. The makeshift shops were also abuzz with festivity in Guwahati. The shopkeepers were seen busy catering to the customers. The shopkeepers at the Ganeshguri area have set up stalls along the footpath.

    “The business is slowly picking up. The flag comes in three sizes – the smaller one costs Rs 5, the medium one comes at Rs 10 and the biggest flag in my stall costs Rs 100. When I see the flag flying high, it gives me immense pride,” said Nitai Kalita, while selling tricolour wrist bands in Ganeshguri. Kalita is a fruit vendor on other days of the year.

    The Union Home Ministry has directed all states and union territories to ensure strict compliance of the flag code. If you use a plastic flag, you can face prosecution and even land up in jail, as per the order.


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    First published