Chandigarh, March 24: It may not be related to the famous Tomatina festival in Spain's Bunol town or the Egg festival in Pittsfield town in the US, but prices of eggs and tomatoes shot up in Chandigarh and in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana as the region celebrated Holi.
With youngsters taking the Holi festival beyond the general theme of dry and water colours, eggs and tomatoes were in great demand on Thursday as the festival of colours was celebrated.
"Since yesterday (Wednesday), the demand for eggs and tomatoes has gone up. The prices have also gone up by 30 to 50 percent," Rakesh Sharma, a grocery shop owner in Chandigarh's Sector 7, told IANS.
Sharma said the price of a tray of eggs had shot up from Rs.140 on Tuesday to over Rs.200.
"Even though most shopkeepers had kept extra stocks in view of the increased demand during Holi festival, many of them ran out of stock by noon," he said, adding that the prices of both commodities will stabilise by Friday.
Near his shop, a group of 10-12 youngsters, including girls, were drenched in Holi colours.
In their hands were eggs and tomatoes as well which they were throwing at each other and even at some passing vehicles. The area was strewn with broken eggs and smashed tomatoes.
"Playing Holi with just colours is passe. Eggs and tomatoes give a different thrill to Holi. Even though the smell of the eggs bugs you later, one does not mind," Shivani, a final year student in a local college, told IANS.
Tomato prices, which hovered around Rs.80 per kg earlier in the week, went up beyond Rs.120 on Thursday.
"Many youths on motorbikes and cars have stopped by my cart since morning. They are demanding eggs. My stocks sold off within one hour," said Arjun, a milkman in Chandigarh's Sector 37.
On Chandigarh's Geri Route, a popular driving route among youngsters, scores of police personnel had a hard time keeping youths in check as there was a near-chaos situation along the 3-4 km stretch along the inner markets of Sector 8, 9, 10 and 11. The markets are popular for eating joints and other shops.
Chandigarh Police was forced to put up barricades at entry points of Sector 10 as the number of Holi revellers and vehicles increased and led to small traffic jams.
The same situation was witnessed near the Sector 8 market as well. Vehicles moved bumper-to-bumper as traffic slowed down on the route due to the Holi revelry.
"We have put up barricades at various points on the Geri route to keep the youths in check. Many vehicles were overloaded and were stopped for checking. We also checked vehicles for eggs and liquor. Several trays of eggs were confiscated and destroyed. Some liquor and beer bottles were also seized," a sub-inspector of Chandigarh Police told IANS in Sector 9.
Nearly 1,000 police personnel were deployed across Chandigarh to ensure peaceful Holi celebrations.
Reports of Holi revelry, including use of eggs and tomatoes, were also received from other cities and towns in Punjab and Haryana.
However, not all were happy with the use of eggs and tomatoes for playing Holi.
"Some people threw eggs at our vehicle when we were crossing Sector 9. One egg missed the face of an occupant in our car and broke inside the vehicle, causing a lot of smell.
"A couple of eggs hit the windscreen also and it was difficult to get rid of the mess on the screen. This is no way of playing Holi if it harasses other people," businessman Sumit Goyal pointed out.