By Ruma Dubey
Till a few years ago, was Akshay Tritiya even known or advertised like the way it is today? Most people did not even know the existence of such an auspicious day and like the various modern day concepts of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, this seemingly newly discovered ‘festival’ has come into being. How many really know the true significance of this day? Most would say that it’s the best day to buy gold. Why? Actually, practically speaking, it is probably the worst day to buy gold as prices hit the peak.
Spiritually, as per the Indian vedic calendar, it an auspicious day to start new ventures or buy as asset. It is said that all meaningful activities started on this day will become fruitful. This day, the Sun and moon are at their brightest and this happens only once every year. It is also the birthday of Lord Parashurama, one of the avatars of Vishnu. It is said to be the day when Sudama visited his friend Krishna, and without uttering a word about his impoverished state, Krishna blessed Sudama and his family with eternal wealth and prosperity. That is what the day depicts – akshaya, which means eternal blessings. Nowhere do the scriptures or the great saints mention about the significance of buying gold on this day.
In this new age of consumerism, goldsmiths/jewelers have hit upon an excellent marketing trick. They have interpreted this day as the best to buy gold – the best day to buy assets. For Indians, gold remains the best asset and hence the gold shops have very smartly cashed in on this day. Just like the various ‘days’ which are actually a gimmick of the greeting card companies, this is only purely a marketing gimmick which has been initiated by the gold shops. Today, it has become a part of religious rituals.
Actually, being an auspicious day, one should invest in good assets and make new beginnings, right? That is the significance of this day. And that is precisely the reason why you should not invest in gold today. Gold as an asset makes no sense in today’s modern world of stocks, realty, bonds, FDs, PPF, etc.
Surely most of us pay heed to the words of Warren Buffett and he too does not believe in investing in gold. In fact, way back in 1998, while addressing a conference at Harvard, he had said, “it gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”
And that is the truth. Today there is no utility for gold. It is too expensive to wear and flaunt as it could attract unwanted attention and so it merely remains almost always in the bank or home lockers. There was a time when gold was historically used as a currency and there were no alternate modes of investment. But today, it just sits there, not generating any cash flow – no bonus, no dividend, only the hope that one day it will give major returns, a hedge against inflation. But seriously, how many of us would ever sell the gold from the lockers to make money? Selling gold is like the last resort and rarely does that happen. So are we buying gold to simply hoard in the safe deposit boxes and feel happy about the notional gains made?
Instead, if the money is invested in long term fundamentally sound stocks, surely the returns would be much better. It is time we Indians gave up this penchant for the yellow metal. If we all opt for light weight jewellery for marriages and ceremonies, won’t we automatically shut down smuggling and clamp down on the greedy jewelers? Why this fascination for gold? So why are we spending so much money on something which, in actual sense is useless, just a piece of metal in the safe? It is dug out from one “mine” to only be stored in another safe which you call “mine”.
How aptly Warren Buffett sums it up, “ If you buy an ounce of gold today and you hold it at hundred years, you can go to it every day and you could coo to it and fondle it and a hundred years from now, you’ll have one ounce of gold and it won’t have done anything for you in between. You buy 100 acres of farm land and it will produce for you every year. You can buy more farmland, and all kinds of things, and you still have 100 acres of farmland at the end of 100 years. You could you buy the Dow Jones Industrial Average for 66 at the start of 1900. Gold was then $20. At the end of the century, it was 11,400, and you would also have gotten dividends for a hundred years. So a decent productive asset will kill an unproductive asset.”
Do not fall for the gimmicks today. Instead of gold, if buy you must, go and buy some good stocks, bonds or better still, start a venture which will benefit others around you, while you also grow with it. Anything which is hoarded is a sign of greed and selfishness. Are those the virtues you need to buy on this auspicious day?