Akshay Tritiya & Gold

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[Photo by Mr. eNil] So you must have heard that Akshay Tritiya (or Aakha Teez) is falling on 6th May and it is an auspicious day for buying gold jewellery. It is said that buying gold on this day will bring prosperity and increase in wealth. This belief is so rampant that everyone plans and buys (even if token) gold coins/jewellery on that day which increases the demand and pushes the gold prices to exorbitant levels.

But very few really go and check out the true significance of this belief. Here is some history about Akshay Tritiya and why buying gold is not the true essence of this holy day as per Hindu mythology.

If you remember the Mahabharata, where Pandavas had to be exile in the forests. The eldest Yudhishtra was not happy since he was unable to feed the holy sages that he met during his exile in the forest, so he prayed to Lord Surya. The Akshay Patra (inexhaustible vessel) was given to Pandavas by Lord Surya on the day of Akshay Tritiya. The idea is that the vessel will always be filled with food until the Pandava’s wife Draupadi will eat for the day. Another related mythology story is when Rishi Durvasa visited Pandavas and by that time Draupadi had already eaten the food from Akshay Patra and hence no food remained for the great Rishi Durvasa. Hence Draupadi prayed to Lord Krishna, who came and ate the single grain of rice from the Akshay Patra and announced that He is satisfied with the food. This caused the Durvasa Rishi and his disciples to also feel full-stomach.

So this indicated absolutely no connected with the belief that buying gold on the auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya will make you prosperous. The people twisted the mythological story to indicate that anything you acquire on this day will be inexhaustible similar to Akshay Patra and since the most precious thing to buy is gold, which then will remain inexhaustible. It is exactly the turning the table on its head, since as per my understanding the idea of Akshay Patra is to use it to donate the food to the needy and it still does not exhaust (rather than keeping it to yourself). The idea should be that anything you donate on this day will be inexhaustible, but that is now long forgotten.

This twisted interpretation is especially great for people in the gold business since the demand for gold shoots up artificially. The gold prices in India this Akshay Tritiya is expected to shoot up to Rs 25000 per 10 gram. The only people who are going to gain are the people who do business in gold.

There are lot of interesting gimmicks launched by jewellers to attract the customers during this year. As an example their is a “double protection” scheme which allows customers to book jewellery at a desired gold rate and does not impact your cost if the prices go up. In the event of gold prices going down compared to booking rate, the difference will be paid back. This is good for business but not so good for customers. The problem is the confusion created by the various advertisements on such scheme. Can a customer keep the booking rate lower than that day’s price? Will the labour charges be returned back along with cost of gold if the gold prices go down? What if the particular seller where you booked the gold prices, manipulates the gold price on Akshay Tritiya to ensure that it is higher than what most buyers have booked at? Can a customer cancel the booking without loss if some other jeweller is giving gold price much lower than the shop where customer booked the rate?

My advise for everyone is to not go after such schemes without knowing full details and the risks involved. The gold buying should be just one part of your investment portfolio and should be done in staggered manner to meet investment objectives.