Cancellations hit Bihar marriage halls

City COVID-19 Economy

By Nishant Kumar

Sitamarhi: The second wave of Covid-19 has adversely affected Sitamarhi’s marriage halls. With business faltering, owners of the halls are at their wits’ end.

According to the Bihar government’s new guidelines, not more than 50 people can participate in a wedding. The decision came into effect after the state recorded a spike in cases.

The owner of Ashirwad marriage hall, Amit Kumar, informed The Observer: “We have lost around 40 marriage bookings since the lockdown and had to return their money. As only 50 people are allowed, people have started to have weddings inside their own campuses which lets them save money.”

Marriage hall owners, who suffered huge losses in the past, say maintaining sanitation in the marriage has become a big challenge. 

Birendra Yadav, whose daughter’s marriage was deferred due to the second wave of the pandemic, said: “I postponed the marriage to the end of this year hoping that cases will go down.”

Almost every marriage hall, regardless of its size, gets at least 20 bookings every normal season. Hall owners charge in the range of Rs 80,000-Rs 1.5 lakh.

“If I pay Rs 1.2 lakh on a marriage hall, then I would want to call all my relatives which is not possible in the current situation,” added Yadav.

The state government has banned the use of musical bands in marriages, putting a lot of band companies out of businesses. The restrictions also have badly affected flower vendors, mehendi artists, caterers and tent house providers.

Rajesh Kumar, owner of Sitamarhi’s Taj Band, said: “Even though the government has allowed marriage halls to be open, the use of musical bands is still prohibited since the first lockdown. Many of our competitors have already closed their businesses, but we somehow survived. Sometimes we play even in… small villages because there’s hardly any administration there.” 

Indrabhushan Prasad, owner of Madhur Milan marriage hall, said: “We only had a few marriage ceremonies after the lockdown and business went downhill. To attract people, we even decreased our fees, but we still see no bookings.”

He added: “Previously I employed more than 30 workers who worked on a monthly basis, but I have had to let go of 20 of them as they were not required and had become an extra burden on my expenditure.”

Shivnath Kumar, owner of a catering business, shared: “Earlier, we used to have catering orders every single day but now we hardly get any in a month. Many of my colleagues have left this profession and are doing something else.”

Business meetings and celebrations like birthday parties are not happening, denting the income of party hall owners.

But there is some hope of revival as very few auspicious dates are available in the month of November and December; most wedding halls, banquets, and pandals have already been booked for later dates. 

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