April 15: The courteous deposit to Bengali New Year’s Day’s traditional “haal khata” (current account) went digital today as many businessmen in Nadia received money from their customers through digital modes.
A large section of shop owners today used their swipe machines and digital wallets as alternative mode to receive money from their customers and made entries in the traditional ‘haal khata’ or the jovially called ‘Laal khata’.
As a mix of tradition with technology, businessmen in places across the state were seen receiving payments keeping the swipe machine on a decorated “Pushpa Patra” along with a bust of Lord Ganesha and receiving payments for ‘haal khata’.
The occasion Haal khata, has become a tradition among traders of opening a new ledger with a puja on the Bengali New Year, started during Mughal emperor Akbar’s regime. On the first day of the Bengali New Year, traders open new ledger. Customers are invited to pay dues and welcomed with sweets as a courtesy. The tradition of using cloth-bound and red in color, is believed to have originated soon after Akbar established the new Bengali calendar in 1584 to ease taxation.
In towns like Ranaghat, Chakdaha, Krishnanagar, Kalyani, and many other areas in the state customers appeared to be mentally prepared enough for the digital payment systems, while in many cases customers were requested to use their debit cards for payment.
Sanjay Biswas, proprietor of Jasoreswari Bastralaya, a garment store in Ranaghat, who used his swipe machine for the “haal khata” said: “This change was inevitable. The demonetization forced us to go digital. We have been largely accustomed about the digital payment system. So I found it quite natural to use this system too for the haal khata payment. Technology joined the tradition today. I also received payments using digital wallet. I also kept provision for cash payment, but customers mostly used digital mode”.
Biswas today received payments from about 300 customers.
“Since July last year my customers are habituated to use swipe machine. I invited them to my shop today maintaining the tradition. As a customary practice they paid different amounts using the swipe machine as token advance for New Year’s purchase”, He added.
Garment shop owners like Sanjay Bose of Chakdaha also used their swipe machines to receive payments for the ‘Haal Khata’ today.
Bose said: “Today mainly those customers have big dues and paid big amounts used their debit cards to credit their amount to haal khata. But, those others who were invited on good gesture and paid small amounts paid in cash.”
A businessman in Kalyani said: “Till last year I maintained the customary tradition of receiving money in cash. As I learnt from my father I used to keep a small bust of lord Ganesha on a copper plate on the Bengali ‘Nabo Barsho’, decorate it applying sindoor and with cash received. But, this year I have introduced the swipe machine as an alternative system to credit the payment of the customers as all of us become accustomed to the new system more”.
Sanjib Dutta, owner of a departmental store in Chakdah said: “Even though I have to pay at least 0.75% as bank charges for every digital transaction, nevertheless, I feel it quite comfortable as the cash being directly deposited to my bank account”.
Aniket Das, who runs a bag store in Karimpur said: “In past every year after ‘Poila Boisakh’ most business had a trying day at the banks to deposit the cash received for haal khata. But this digital payment system has made the task easy as it being directly credited to the account. I personally decided to use swipe machine from this year because earlier I used to find it difficult to carry home the day’s collection of cash with me. It has eased my tension now”.