KARACHI - It’s that time of the year again. Karachi has become even livelier than usual, preparing to celebrate the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on Rabiul Awwal 12, being observed today.

Strings of fairy lights festoon buildings and houses, some even adorned with flags prepared in relevance to the occasion. Echoes of Naats resound in streets as mosques across the city present a spectacle, decorated with jubilant lights.

Capturing the true spirit of the auspicious occasion, citizens are seen offering food to the needy more often than the usual, while neighbours and relatives send each other sweet dishes in the spirit of celebration.

However, even as citizens find themselves jubilant in celebration, the prices of celebratory items have risen significantly.

It is estimated that makeshift stalls, especially set up ahead of Eid Miladun Nabi, have raised the prices of flags, badges, lights, buntings and miniature models of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) sandals, among other items, by 30 to 50 percent from those of the last year.

This is why most buyers prefer to purchase these items at wholesale markets, where they can be found for up to 30 per cent less than retail prices, explained a shopkeeper in Paper Market, Fahad Feroze.

He added that most of these decorative items are locally produced and among them, the demand for flags - particularly green ones - badges and fairy lights is the highest.

An innovation this year has emerged in the form badges shaped like the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) sandals and Masjid-e-Nabvi.

Then there are lanterns and different kinds of decorative lights.

According Muhammad Afzaal, a shopkeeper, fairy lights fitted with small LED bulbs are available for Rs80 to Rs500. He said these lights, imported from China, were high in demand and consumed less electricity. Besides, lamps modelled to imitate the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) sandals are being sold from Rs800 to Rs4,000. Moreover, children’s attire in green and white are costing around Rs200 to Rs500.

One of the main features of Eid Miladun Nabi is the processions taken out each year.

According to Nizam-e-Mustafa Party chief Haji Hanif Tayyab, this tradition has been alive in Karachi for the past 150 years.

“Earlier, the main procession appeared from Lyari and culminated at Arambagh Mosque after passing through Bolton Market and other areas,” he said, adding that the route changed around 40 years ago.

Today, the main procession is taken out from Memon Masjid in Bolton Market and culminates at Nishtar Park. Besides the main procession, as many as 200 smaller ones are taken out in the city, merging with the former at different spots, explained Tayyab.

According to him, the main focus of the central gathering at Nishtar Park this year would be condemning blasphemous sketches in France.