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Gold buying grows as Indian festival season heats up

Gold demand in India, the world’s biggest buyer of bullion, is set to rise even further in the next few days with the country celebrating the Chhath festival

Several million devotees, a majority of them women, offered `Arghya’ to the Sun God on Monday in various bodies of water across Bihar, a state in northern India. The occasion of the Chhath festival, celebrated across India, turned golden this year, giving a fresh impetus to gold buying.

The Chhath festival is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. The Chhath Puja (prayer) is performed on the bank of the river in order to thank the Sun God for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.

Given the record sale of gold coins in Bihar on the occasion of the just concluded Diwali festival, India Post, Bihar, has increased the discount on gold coins from 7% to 7.5%.

Like every other year, on November 1, the postal department had launched the sale of 24-carat and 99.9% pure gold coins at 7% discount. The offer was valid till December 31.

However, given the record sale of 17 kilograms of gold on Dhanteras, (November 11), the highest in the country, India Post, Bihar, decided to up the discount to 7.5% for gold coins.

The discount is valid from November 19 to November 22, on the occasion of the Chhath festival. But, as many as 10 postal offices, including the ones at Sheikhpura, Aurangabad, Katihar and Buxar, have reportedly run out of stock.

Gujarat alone had sales of the yellow metal of around 300 kilograms on November 11. The Chhath festival is celebrated in the state as well, with retailers expecting a record number of kilogram gold sales this year.

Uttar Pradesh, which is adjoining the state of Bihar, reportedly sold over 15.5 kilo of the precious metal on Dhanteras, when it is considered highly auspicious to buy the yellow metal.

Chhath Puja is most commonly celebrated near the river Ganges. Apart from Bihar, it is also observed in Uttar Pradesh, some parts of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, the Tarai of Nepal, and even Mauritius, and certain northern parts of India.

In Patna, fasting men and women thronged the steps leading to the water on the bank of the Ganges and stood waist-deep to offer prayers to the setting Sun to seek blessings for their families.

Chhath Puja is a 4-day festival where devotees fast without water for more than 24 hours and worship the Sun. There are many rituals that are followed in these four days, which fall on the sixth day after Diwali, notable amongst them being the buying of gold as prayers are offered.

On Dhanteras, India Post in Bihar, earned $1 million (Rs 75 million) from the sale of gold coins, with the post office selling more than 1.5 kilograms of gold every day of the Diwali festival.

 
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