It was another sunrise as the night sky turned crimson, dotted with thousands of hot air balloons or Chinese tukkals on Tuesday and Wednesday. So, it was not surprising when figures revealed that Amdavadis had released over 1 crore hot air balloons in just two days. And, all made and imported from China.
The importers and wholesalers said around 30-35 lakh Chinese tukkals were sold the previous year. “This year, the sale of hot air balloons tripled to over 1 crore,” said P Dogaria, importer of hot air balloons.
Again, with the supply of these tukkals overshooting demand, the price was pretty less this year. “The trend of releasing hot air balloons during Uttarayan began in the last three to four years. As, supply was insufficient against demand last year, price in the wholesale market was over Rs35 per piece. This time, it was exactly the opposite and, so the price was between Rs15 and Rs20 per piece,” said Dogaria.
Importers in Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad bought these Chinese tukkals in bulk. “The kite sellers bought these tukkals from the importers from different parts of the city and country. There has been a huge demand for these hot air balloons in the city this Uttarayan,” said kite wholesaler Ashish Khajanchi.
The making cost of these tukkals is said to be only Rs5 to Rs7 per piece. “A few years back, the hot air balloons were made in Khambat, Gujarat. The same community, which is making kites, was also making these tukkals. But, the price was very high due to the high labour cost. Compared to that, China was ready to sell at a lower price and in huge quantities. So, those in Khambat stopped making hot air balloons. Now, each and every hot air balloon is imported from China,” said Dogaria.
A hot air balloon can go up in the air without breeze. “Those who don’t know how to fly kites have also bought these balloons. These tukkals are made of the same paper that is used to make kites. Along with that it has a small piece of wax, which helps to keep the fire going for some time,” said Anand Patel, a retailer and wholesaler of kites and tukkals.
A few years back, the hot air balloons were bought by event managers across the country.
“We used to supply them during various events, especially for destination weddings. The balloons became a huge hit during Uttarayan only in the last few years,” said Dogaria.