Business booms for locals in Mazar during Nawroz
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): There is a proverb: “People make money at the Sakhi Shrine during Nawroz and eat it for the whole year.”
"We wait for the New Year to make money during the 40 days of celebration," said Sawab Gul, 47, who owns a guest house located south of the Hazrat Ali Mausoleum in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province.
"On the brink of new year, people come to Mazar-i-Sharif from various provinces and stay in the city for many days to enjoy the celebrations," Gul told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The ceremony which takes place on the first day of the year, March 21, has a special importance at the shrine of Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph of Islam.
"On regular days, the rate of a room is 300 afghanis ($7), but the rent increases to 2,000 afghanis ($44) during the festival," Gul said.
However, he said the rest of the year his business was "worthless".
The new year has a huge impact on business in Mazar-i-Sharif, where people start arriving a week before the festival starts.
Prices of goods are several times higher than during the rest of the year, but it does not seem to deter people.
Basir Ahmad, a young man from eastern Nangarhar province, who arrived in Mazar a week ago with his three friends, said they paid 1,900 afghanis a night at a guest house.
"We are here to enjoy ourselves. We don’t care about money," he said, adding many people were unable to find room at hotels and guest houses because they were already full.
Shopkeepers were also happy with the crowds of people buying goods in their shops.
Sultan Mir, a shopkeeper north of the shrine, said people buy many things in Nowruz compared to other festivals, including religious ones.
On a regular day, he might average 10,000 to 15,000 afghanis per day, but it jumps to 60,000 afghanis per day during the festival.
People also come from other parts of the country to do business in Mazar over Nawruz.
Abdul Jabar, 32, from Nangarhar province, said he came a week ago to sell watches and clocks in Mazar-i-Sharif. He makes 2,000 afghanis per day. A watch worth 70 afghanis can be sold for 150 afghanis to 200 afghanis, he said.
The mayor of Mazar-i-Sharif, Muhammad Yunus Muqim, said efforts would be made to control prices and prevent an artificial price hike in the city.
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