Monday, May 9, 2011

Going for gold

A decade ago, few people in Kerala had heard of Akshaya Tritiya. And fewer still observed it by buying gold or beginning new ventures. For Akshaya Tritiya, considered an ‘auspicious’ day to do things like buy gold or begin something new, was not quite on Kerala’s calendar of propitious days.
But a few years ago, change swept in courtesy a union between smart marketing by the World Gold Council and Kerala’s ever-growing craving for gold. Back in 2006 I remember walking into a large jewellery store in Thiruvananthapuram on Akshaya Tritiya and finding it buzzing at 9 in the morning; normally a time when cleaners and security personnel are likely to be the only people in the city’s jewellery stores.
What is it about gold that mesmerises the Malayalee so much? Hard to say, but as this recent article in India Today points out, gold has always been considered a good investment. It’s also a good way to flaunt wealth, especially the newly acquired variety.
And with Kerala’s love affair with gold growing stronger, the hype around Akshaya Tritiya has grown in tandem. And more people are coming to the party. As this report in The Hindu says, this year banks also joined in, selling gold coins on Akshaya Tritiya day. And the article adds:
“Jewellery outlets registered brisk sales on Thursday and Friday as the festival was spread over two days this year.

Most jewellery shops had made elaborate arrangements to meet the rush. Many of them were open by 8.30 a.m. and continued the sales beyond the normal hours in the evening.”
So does buying gold on Akshaya Tritiya beget prosperity for the rest of the year? I guess the jury’s still out on that. At the very least, Akshaya Tritiya does seem to add to the bottomlines of Kerala’s jewellers and, now, perhaps of banks as well.
Perhaps what Akshaya Tritiya’s blossoming popularity in Kerala establishes is that marketing campaigns that are pitched just so, work wonders.

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