Vendors, patrons in festive mood as Ramadan bazaar returns to Geylang Serai
Mr Muhammad Sayraz Khan, whose family has been selling traditional Malay clothes at the Geylang Serai bazaar for 25 years, was disappointed when it could not be held the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, he had ordered stock worth $300,000, which he was unable to sell.
"It affected us not only financially, but emotionally as well. It is quite sad that we had to go through this over the past two years," he added.
He estimates that the bazaar brings in $100,000 in revenue each year.
Now, with the bazaar's resumption, Mr Khan is upbeat, although he believes the atmosphere will not be the same as in previous years because there are only 40 stalls this year, a far cry from the 600 in 2019.
"It will take years for it to come back to its real form, to a real bazaar environment. But it is a good start for sure," the 33-year-old said.
Mr Khan was one of many happy vendors at the annual Ramadan bazaar in Wisma Geylang Serai on Saturday (April 2), the festive fair's first day.
Another vendor, Ms Ereen Aziz, 40, who has been selling casual and seasonal wear for women and children in the bazaar since 2018, said the lack of a physical store in the past two years significantly impacted clothes shops like hers.
"We had to shift our business online. But the customers could not touch and feel my clothes. The atmosphere was missing too," she said.
She estimated that her annual sales dropped by more than 50 per cent.
With the bazaar back, she said: "We are very thrilled that they have allowed bazaars to resume. It really has given us much hope."
Ms Koji Quek, who sells praffles, a combination of prata and waffles, is optimistic at the resumption of large-scale events.
Over the past two years, she had zero revenue.
This is her business' first event since the pandemic struck.
She said: "I was very excited when I heard that this bazaar will return. Despite higher costs, I am happy (and) looking forward (to the bazaar). I hope next year everything will be bigger, better, and livelier."
The 38-year-old said the price of cooking oil has risen to more than $40 a tin from $15 before the pandemic began.
Rental for each stall has also gone up - from $14,000 in 2019 to $20,000 this year, The Straits Times understands.
Minister of State for National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who was at the bazaar on Saturday to welcome vendors and patrons, said: "I am happy that the easing of measures coincided with Ramadan and we have the opportunity to bring the bazaar to the Malay community and the bigger Singapore community. We can share this festive spirit and atmosphere with the rest of Singapore."
Paramedic Ahead Itishman, 26, who was queueing up to buy drinks from Alley Bubble Tea, had been visiting the bazaar for many years before the pandemic struck.
He said he hopes its resumption will bring back the festive spirit.
He added: "It is not even the first day of the fasting month, but the sight of long queues has lifted my mood ahead of Hari Raya this year."
However, Ms Aiman Boon, 24, who was with him, felt this year's atmosphere could not compare to pre-pandemic years'.
"I feel that people who came here had high hopes, and they expected a larger-scale (bazaar). I was shocked because it is much smaller than I expected," she said.
The bazaar will be open daily from 1pm to 11pm till May 2.
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