Diwali in Bangkok a draw for politicians

Lekha Shankar – Governor Chadchart Sittipunt intends to make it an annual event in ‘Little India’

Deepavali was a mega-event in Bangkok this year, with three days of high celebrations on the streets of Pahuratthe Indian quarter of the city. The celebrations were attended by no other than the dynamic new Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt. An engineering academic who studied at the prestigious MIT in the US, Sittipunt had won by a landslide victory as an Independent candidate, defeating his seasoned rivals. Ever since his win, he has taken the city by storm with his many dynamic plans to improve its image. Colourful Bangkok aims to fill all public spaces with cultural activities, of which Pahurat is a part. 

“Everyone knows of Yaowarat, the Chinese quarter of Bangkok. Let’s now promote the Indian quarter,” Sittipunt told this writer, when we met at an art event in the city, where he personally took photographs of the local artistes with his mobile phone and posted them on his Facebook page. Sittipunt is known for using social media extensively for promoting his programmes.

Little India will be the new name of Pahuratsaid the governor, and it truly came into its own during the three-day Deepavali festival. The whole area was festooned with banners, electric lights and lamps, and had stalls selling numerous Indian products and recipes. The khlong (canal) on the side was lit up, and with the governor’s desire to promote it for tourism, has already been earmarked by various tourism companies for kayaking packages.

The walls on the sides of the canal have got magnificient graffiti-images of India. This section has been named Khlong Ong Art.

For the festival, there were two mandaps, one for the puja, set up by VHP, Satya Sai Foundation, among others, and another for a bevy of entertainment acts, including classical and Bollywood dances, DJ and dance music and a fashion show.

“We have been trying for seven years to work with the Bangkok administration and this is the first time they have responded,” said Chuan Thakur, president of the Indian Association of Thailand, one of the main organisers. He was disappointed that none of the big Indian companies had come forward as sponsors, but hoped for their support to do a bigger  show, next year.

The BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Authority) did not support the festival with money, but helped clear the lane for hosting the event and also publishes information about it on its website. That’s why the Indian organisers held a press conference for the Thai media, where they were asked numerous questions about Deepavali.

Thakur informed us that the Bangkok governor had recently addressed the Indo-Thai Chamber of Commerce where he had invited ideas for the celebrations.

At the Deepavali festival, Sittipunt and the deputy governor, Sanon Wangsrangboon, wore Indian waistcoats of silk and offered prayers at the mandap, where the deities of Lakshmi and Ganesh were installed, and after that, they walked the long route to the culture mandap, while surrounded by hordes of Indian admirers.

They stayed for the entire cultural programme, with Sittipunt even posing for pictures with the artistes.

The governor told this writer at the event, that though he did not know much about Deepavali myths and folklore, he was impressed by the colourful celebrations.

“We should make it an annual event in Little India,” he said.

Judging by the high quality of the cultural entertainment, it looked like it could be the start of many Indian programmes in the area. It was also good to see Thai classical dances performed alongside Indian ones.

“We want to highlight the close connection between the two communities,” said Thakur, a real estate developer who moved to Bangkok in the 1970s.

It was impressive to see the large number of Thais partaking in the festival, dressed in ethnic Indian clothes and jewellery. They particularly loved the religious ceremonies with pandits, prayers, bhajans, et al.

“The Indian gods are very popular with Thais,” said Susheel Kumar Saraff, a jewellery magnate and president of VHP Thailand.

“This year’s Deepavali was a vastly delightful experience, as it was celebrated among both the Indian and Thai communities with great cooperation and enthusiasm,” stated Sunil Kothari, a noted industrialist and philanthropist, and one of the sponsors of the festival. He hoped this link with the Bangkok government would lead to more business opportunities.

The Bangkok governor said in his speech that he hoped Little India would throb with “good business” during the three-day festival. “The BMA is only a facilitator. It’s the Indian community who have organised this event, which will help all the local businesses in the area,” he stated.

Judging by the packed stalls and restaurants in Pahurat, it was good business indeed, especially as visitors included Thai citizens and foreign tourists.

Apart from a large entourage of the Bangkok governor, other politicians also attended. Among them was tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, who checked out the gurdwara. Also present were Sudarat Keyuraphan from the Thai Sang Thai party and Paetongtarn Shinawatra, youngest daughter of the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now in exile. She has been named the prime ministerial candidate of her Pheu Thai Party at next year’s general elections.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra

All the Thai politicians wore Indian clothes, and prayed at the puja mandap, with the women enjoying the shops, and especially the henna counter. All of them brought their media teams along, which was why the Deepavali celebrations got huge media coverage in the Thai press this year.

While this was good promotion for the Indian festival, one also wondered whether the presence of the politicians had something to do with the forthcoming general elections in Thailand next year. After all, the Indian community in Thailand is sizeable and strong, numbering 100,000 in total, with 25,000 Indian nationals.

Rajesh Kumar, a digital media influencer, stated that his popular Facebook group, Indians in Thailand, was crammed with Deepavali pictures and posts.

It looks like Diwali will become a flagship festival for Indians in Thailand, just like in Singapore and Malaysia. With the current Bangkok governor’s love for cultural diversity, there’s a strong chance for more Indian festivals to be celebrated in Little India.


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The Truth About Sourcing Gems For High-End And Retail Jewelry Design

If you’re a jeweler and you look at top of the line retail jewelry designs, you don’t see what other people see. You see a series of business issues. One of the biggest issues is simply sourcing gems. The sheer range and scope of modern jewelry are astonishing, particularly in the retail environment.

The Truth About Sourcing Gems For High-End And Retail Jewelry Design

Modern jewelry contains a particularly broad range of types of gems and a complete color spectrum unlike any other industry on Earth. This vast range of gems also includes a particularly difficult cost base for jewelers.

Many modern jewelry pieces are comprised of multiple gems. This range may include some very hard-to-find types of gems from a supply perspective. This is where the cost base comes into play. Sourcing multiple types of gems for retail designs is very much an acquired taste.

Problems may include quantities of gems, size of gems, and, naturally, an obstacle course of different prices, depending on suppliers. These are the issues that directly affect profits, cash flow, and can directly impact the bottom line.

The wrong way and the right way to source gems

Sourcing gems in a high-volume turnover retail environment can be a pretty thankless task for jewelers. You can sell a lot of jewelry, but you can also get yourself into some pretty thankless situations with your costs.
Let’s start with the wrong way to source your gems:

  • Absolute worst practice is to source gems directly off the mainstream market at spot prices. Spot prices are prices for individual gems, purchased on a needs basis. Inevitably, you will be paying top dollar. Even good suppliers can’t sell you individual gems at bulk market prices. You must pay their markup on smaller numbers of gems.
  • The other side to this not-very-appealing situation is that this type of sourcing is unbelievably inefficient. It can seriously interrupt workflow. Why should you have to do a sudden mad scramble for core business gems like tourmaline or sapphires to fill a simple order, for example? This is to say nothing of the aggravating process of managing order times, work timeframes, etc.
  • This method of sourcing is also a very good way of blowing your cash flow out of the water. There is simply nothing good to be said about this slapdash approach to sourcing.

In contrast, the best way of sourcing your gems is 100% systemic and far simpler:

  • You need a good supplier with a truly huge range of gems. This range of gems should include all your core business needs.
  • The supplier should be offering solid discounts and very clear terms of sale. (Some suppliers don’t. This is a particular risk when buying small quantities on an ad hoc basis.)
  • The supplier should have verifiable business credentials as a regular source for your gems.
  • The supplier should clearly show good technical knowledge.
  • Shipping timeframes should not be an issue.

Straightforward as all this may seem, problems with sourcing gemstones can happen on a disturbingly regular basis. Retailers, particularly online retailers, need everything to run smoothly and to be able to manage their orders efficiently. That’s why you need to be extremely thoughtful about where you source your gems.

If you’re looking for some help with interstate suppliers, RMC is right here when you need us. A gigantic range of gems from around the world is truly unbeatable. We can help you with all sorts of jewelry acquisitions, including bulk buy, high-end gems, and more.

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