Akshaya Tritiya, the day when Lord Ganesha and Veda Vyas are believed to have begun writing the Mahabharata, is an auspicious day for Hindus and Jains. After Dhanteras, it is the second-best day to buy gold for Indians, according to tradition. It is widely believed that any activity initiated on this day will prove to be extremely fruitful.
Since today is Akshaya TritIya (24 April), it's a special day for jewellers too.
Indians are the world's top buyers of gold, and the country imports a little more than 550 tonnes of the stuff annually. Since times immemorial, Indians have treated gold as a key asset for savings and a hedge against inflation. The precious metal is typically bought during weddings and festivals.
So, are Indians flocking to gold shops today to snap up some luck-laden purchases?
Well, going by this Reuters report, they're not. "Sales are nil... there are no customers at shops. Otherwise sales for Akshaya Tritiya used to start two days in advance," said Harshad Ajmera, proprietor of JJ Gold House, a wholesaler in Kolkata, told the news agency.
A key reason for that is gold prices in India are hovering around two-month highs, at around Rs 28,880 per 10 grams, keeping buyers on the sidelines.
The rupee has also lost ground after hitting 52.80 against the dollar, a three-and-a-half-month low, which has also pushed up the price of imports. Adding to the price pressure is a hike in import duty as well as a new tax on unbranded jewellery. A prolonged jeweller's strike across March and early April also kept demand subdued in the middle of the wedding season.
Given the high prices of gold, it's very likely that most buyers will buy less of the yellow metal than originally planned. Moneycontrolreports that except for last year when gold crossed Rs 21,000 per 10 grams, demand for gold on Akshaya Tritiya has always climbed.
Despite the current downbeat mood among buyers, jewellers are keeping their fingers crossed. TheTimes of India quotes Arpit Tandon, owner of a prominent jewellery store (WHERE), "We are expecting a 30 percent increase in sales. To attract customers, we have various discount schemes like a 10 percent discount on diamond jewellery above Rs 2 lakh. We also have an easy monthly instalment payment system, where the customer has to pay EMIs for 11 months, and one month EMI is paid by the brand," he added.
Apart from jewellery, gold can be purchased in the form of coins and bars. Some new-age buyers also opt for gold exchange-traded fund (ETF) investments, although tradition dictates that it is better to buy physical gold on this auspicious day.
If history is anything to go by, gold jewellers might still end the day on a happy note.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 07:58:59 IST