Deepavali bazaar in Ipoh given the nod

A merchant arranging flowers and other decorative items outside a shop at Little India in Ipoh. — RONNIE CHIN/The Star

THE Deepavali bazaar at Little India in Ipoh, Perak, will proceed despite opposition by merchants in the area.

Ipoh mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin said the permit to hold the bazaar was given to Kacang Putih Traders Association on Oct 14.

“About 12 tents will be set up near the stage area. These traders will be selling only food and traditional Indian delicacies.

“The tents are expected to be set up on Oct 25 and the bazaar will operate under strict adherence to the standard operating procedure,” he said.

Rumaizi assured the dissatisfied merchants that enforcement officers would ensure all rules would be adhered to.

The bazaar will be held from Oct 28 to Nov 3. Deepavali falls on Nov 4 this year.

The Little India Traders Association had last week expressed concern that allowing the bazaar could trigger an outbreak of Covid-19 cases.

The bazaar used to be held before Deepavali annually but it was skipped last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are usually stalls selling a variety of products, including traditional delicacies, clothes, spices, kacang putih, henna art, fresh flowers and decorative items at the bazaar.

Ipoh city councillor G. Thilak Raj, who assisted Kacang Putih Traders Association in applying for the permit, said only 11 stalls would operate there this year from the 12 tents.

“Each tent will be set apart and there will be personnel to manage the crowd,” he said.

He elaborated that the tents would not be set up on the roadside along Jalan Lahat, but only at a square near the stage area with one entry point and one exit.

This would be similar to bazaars in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, he said.

“One stall can only serve five customers at a time,” he added.

Thilak said the kacang putih sellers — including those who sell snacks by the roadside — had approached him to get permits for a Deepavali bazaar.

“The bazaar was not allowed last year, so they sought my help this year, hoping to boost their business.”

He said Little India was selected as the bazaar venue because the area was known to be the one-stop centre for Deepavali shopping.

“Shoppers know all items needed for Deepavali can be found in Little India.

“If it is held at another location, people who are not from Ipoh may not know about it,” he said, adding that the location was convenient too.

On the merchants’ objection to the bazaar, Thilak said they did not raise the matter with him.

“I was informed that they had sent a letter to the city council.

“With the National Security Council allowing people to do business, I believe the city council also feels there is no reason to stop the bazaar from being held,” he said.

Meanwhile, Little India Traders Association chairman B. Kalyani said merchants in the area planned to stage a picket over the setting up of the Deepavali bazaar.

“We have been very clear with the city council about not wanting the bazaar here this year.

“The city council should have informed us before giving the permit,” she said.

“They could set it (the bazaar) up elsewhere, maybe at Ipoh Padang.

“This is not right. The council is not acting in the interest of the business owners here,” she added.

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