With only a handful of days left ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festival of the country's majority Muslim community, thousands of shoppers thronged the markets and shopping malls of the capital on Monday, ignoring hygiene rules and fear of being infected by coronavirus.
Crowds of shoppers were seen in almost all the markets of the capital, with little care to follow hygiene rules and maintain social distance, though most of them were wearing masks.
However, many a shoppers were found carrying the masks at hand, or putting those hanging under their chins.
In reply to the query over why they were shopping amidst an ongoing lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, most of the shoppers answered that they are taking risk of being infected only to fulfill the demand of their children.
Masum Ahmed, a government official, with at least 10 family members including father, mother, wife and two children, has come for Eid shopping at Bashundhara Shopping Center.
Although he is well aware about the importance of following hygiene rules to prevent corona infection, even after that, he came to the market with his family members to buy the clothes of their choices.
Masum Ahmed told The Business Standard, "We did not get out for a long time due to corona. I could not go out during last year's Eid…couldn't shop for anyone in the family. So even though there is the risk of infection, I have come out to shop as the shops are open. I will finish my shopping and go home in two hours."
"I agree that it is inappropriate to get out of home during the lockdown imposed to tackle the pandemic, but if you cannot fulfill the whims of the children, you yourself would feel bad," he added.
Not only Masum Ahmed but almost everyone who went out for shopping used the excuse of going out to shop knowing the the risk to meet up children's wishes.
With only few days left before Eid, crowds of shoppers were seen in almost all the markets of the capital. Nowhere is there a tendency to follow hygiene rules. Most of the shoppers were wearing masks, but no one was seen shopping maintaining social distance.
The situation was same in the capital's New Market, Dhanmondi Hawkers Market, Chandni Chowk, Gaussia, Nur Mansion, Chandrima Market, Bashundhara Shopping Center, Motaleb Plaza, Eastern Plaza and several other shopping centers on Monday.
Although some large shopping malls including Bashundhara Shopping Mall, Eastern Plaza and Motaleb Plaza have spray, temperature measurement and hand sanitation facilities at the entrance, most of the markets did not have disinfectant at the entrance.
Hand sanitation was found in the shops. Besides, thousands of buyers grabbed the same product, pushing and shoving one another, but there was no awareness between the buyers and the sellers.
Shafiqur Rahman, who came to shop at New Market, told TBS, "I am seeing so many people after coming here. Pushing the crowd, it is difficult to walk normally. Let alone shopping according to hygiene rules, it is difficult to manage oneself in this crowd. If I knew the crowd would be so big, I might not have come to shop."
Another buyer, Samiha Rahman, told TBS that it is normal that there would be a little crowd during Eid. If you don't shop for fear of corona, what will the traders do? There is a rare kind of joy in shopping during Eid. If you go home and freshen up well, you shouldn't be afraid of Corona."
Vendors claimed that they were selling hygienically and were not allowing more people to enter the store.
But no shop in the markets was found abiding by the rules. Rather, many of the sellers were seen talking to buyers and selling without wearing masks.
Five salesmen of Rajib Fashion at Dhanmondi Hawkers Market were showing clothes to buyers without wearing any mask.
The manager of the shop told TBS, "Talking to the customers in the shop makes the throat dry at times, so sometimes I put the mask away for a while. I have put off the mask for a while as it is more difficult to wear it in hot weather."
Md Anik of New Jamdani Cottage told TBS that now the sale of saree is very low. The last two days before, the sale was good. Sales are usually low one or two days before Eid, and many have made purchases since the market opened this year.
Tanzeem Islam, who came to shop with five family members, told TBS, "We came out today for shopping with the whole family. We have bought products worth Tk25,000 and tried to follow the hygiene rules. However, I was a little uncomfortable with the children in the crowd."
Abdul Muktadir, a seller of Tasneem Fashion, told TBS that the sale is like that of Eid 2019 and the crowd is good. It is difficult to follow the hygiene rules in such a crowd of people.
Mushtaq Hossain, an adviser to the ICDDR, told TBS that variants have changed rapidly in India due to the increase in infections. If the number of infection increases in Bangladesh, there is a possibility of creation of another variant. We have to think of a way for this. Crowds are not going to be reduced by just by law.
"Our habits like Eid shopping and riding on crowded public transport need to be changed. That is why it is important to change some systems. Everyone buys a little at this time of the year as they get good salary and bonus during Eid," he said.
"It is possible to have some control if bonus is given at an earlier time, and market management follows the government restrictions properly," he added.