Thanks to India's huge and diverse population, there is no one answer to those questions. There are over 200 languages spoken and six different major religions ( Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs). Generally speaking, gold is bought for one of two reasons marriages or gift-giving at the time of festivals, but the timing varies from region to region. It is not bought, logically enough, during monsoons, but buying is also postponed during certain periods scattered throughout the year when it is considered unlucky to engage in any worldly activity.

Thanks to the dowry system, which although outlawed is still prevalent, the main influence on gold buying is the number of marriages taking place. In Indian weddings, the bride's family provides the bulk of the jewellery that usually forms an important element of the dowry. In a rural economy, marriages mainly take place when work on the farm is at a low ebb and the weather permits travel (i.e., not during harvest season or monsoon). The wedding season generally starts in October and goes until April or May, with a few breaks in between for the inauspicious periods.

There are several of these breaks. The most important is called the Adik Mass, running for an entire month from 15 July to 15 August and occurring once every three years. This period is designed to correct the imbalance between the solar calendar (365 days a year) and the lunar calendar (354 days) by adding an excess month to the lunar calendar. Called Adik Mass or Purushotam Mass, it is a very religious time, when the emphasis is placed on prayers, purifying one's mind, charity and keeping away from worldly things.

Another notable inauspicious time is called Shradah, which lakes place sometime between September and October. A week is set aside for ancestral worship, during which is considered unlucky Lo engage in any sort of financial activity.

Conversely, there are a number of auspicious days scattered throughout the calendar. On these days, queues form outside jewellers as people seek to buy small bars and coins. The weather is a major factor in determining the low season. India is affected by two different monsoons, one called the Southwest, which enters from that direction around Bombay beginning roughly the end of' May and sweeps to the north. The other, the Northeast monsoon, comes from that direction but occurs much later in the year beginning anytime from August through September or early October and affects the East or Southeast.

India is a very religious country with many social customs. Festivals come in an incredible variety and generally differ from one region to another. However, Diwali, the festival of lights occurring in October, is celebrated almost everywhere - with firecrackers, feasting and gift-giving - including coins, small bars and small items of jewellery.