about 23 days ago
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The festival of lights has begun. Dhanatrayodashi marked the beginning of the mega festivities – this is the biggest and last big festival for majority of Hindus. Kaarti and Chhoti Diwali, Tulsi vivah… all that will follow but none of them will be as big as Diwali – the climax of all festivities through the year.

There is a lot of hope riding on this season; companies are hoping that the wavering and tethering demand finally takes off and people get into a mood of buying and loosening their purse strings. Bikes, cars, jewellery, apparels, electronics, mobiles, FMCGs, everyone is hoping that this will be their big season.

Today is Narakachaturdashi – it symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. With ‘good’ reigning, we get into worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, not just for wealth but for bestowing us with all the intangible ‘goods’ of life. Goddess Lakshmi is no doubt, the Goddess of prosperity but prosperity is not only money but prosperity of emotions, knowledge, health, wisdom.

And India struggles between two bridges - whether to be ‘materialistic’ or more ‘spiritual.’ The Muhurat trading is not what it used to be earlier when families of brokers used to come in their new clothes and fineries, there used to sweets, laughter and firecrackers on Dalal Street.

The women and children came dressed in their best clothes, bejeweled and dazzling. There were boxes of sweets going all around the street. Brokers offices used to be dressed up too – marigold flowers and intricate rangolis, diyas’ and torans’. There used to be an air of festivity and excitement, almost a feeling of bonhomie between the entire broking and trading community. Even the “Bhat” chaiwallahs with their chais and ukala’s used to go around serving with a smile on their face and a spring to their feet; doling out cups after cups in their own set of new clothes. The entire span of the Muhurat Trading was marked with the bursting of crackers and cheers all round.

Today, most ask us, “what is Muhurat trading?” Indeed, it now remains a shadow of what used to be. It has become just a ritual to be followed. In this era of online trading and FIIs, Muhurat or Samvat trading is symbolic, like many other things, a relic of the past.

Even now, for Muhurat Trading some broker’s offices are decorated and families do pay a visit but these are just a handful. With many brokers preferring to shift to suburbs or other locations in the city, with the trading floor on the BSE no longer relevant, Muhurat Trading, the Pooja and decorations are all done far away from Dalal Street. The few of them who have held on to their offices there do not necessarily follow the ritual.

Muhurat Trading is essentially a Marwari and Gujarati tradition – it marks the beginning of a new financial year for the community. A coin which symbolizes wealth is placed on the account books before the puja, after which the Lakshmi Puja is done, followed by the Muhurat Trading. The belief is that Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi resides in homes where a puja was conducted, which also explains why lights are kept burning throughout the night. The Muhurat Trading is considered to be an auspicious occasion, buying some token shares to mark the beginning of the new year. And because it is “token” we typically see very low volumes and a market which just about closes in the green.

A few interesting tidbits about the Muhurat Trading:

  • It started on BSE in 1957 and on NSE in 1992
  • Looking at archives from 2001, the Sensex usually ended with gains as people prefer to buy and not sell; gains are small ranging from 0.2 to less than 1.5%.
  • Volumes are very low – less than 10% of daily trading volume.
  • Retail investors are the most active in this session with FIIs, Mutual Funds never or rarely participating.
  • Muhurat session of 2011 was marked by a flash crash on the BSE after which all trades in Sensex futures of that session had to be annulled.

Muhurat Trading is a part of the Diwali celebrations; you can choose to either buy some token shares or enjoy the festivity with your loved ones!

Markets, politics, interest rates, Fed, RBI, everything will remain; best to focus on the festival of lights, collecting a treasure trove of memories with loved ones. Diwali is indeed the time to eat, pray and love!

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