You are here: Rediff Home » India » News » I-Day Special 08 » Photos
        Email  |    Discuss  |   Get latest news on your desktop

Back | Next

The Bazaar: For keeping a part of India alive

Ever seen the range of emotions bursting out of an Indian bazaar?

August 18, 2008

It is all about sensory overload.

The pungent smells; many interesting and some revolting. The blinding colors. And the deafening noise...

A visit to any of India's colourful bazaars is a delightful experience.

Just about anything from polka-dot chaddis and excessively pink chappals to green herbs, freshly-ground masalas, handicrafts, rugs, toys, combs are on sale. The choice and range is bewildering.

Just about anyone moves through a desi market -- bunches of raggedy, snotty-faced kids, sturdy Hero bicycles, tinkling rickshaws, munching ambling cows, squawking chickens and goats on dainty feet, swiping a green leaf or carrot here or there -- in addition to a massive throng of pushy shoppers.

Just about any odour assaults your olfactory passages -- the stinging smell of green mirchi (chillies) that brings tears to your eyes too, the strong stench of fresh fish, the scent of snacks being fried at the food stalls, the fragrance of crude soap and hair oils, the aroma of raw haldi (turmeric) and oodles of heady BO.

And have you ever checked out the sheer range of emotions bursting out of an Indian bazaar? Anger. Smiles. Laughs... Joy. Sorrow. Mock sorrow. Ire, Mock ire... Haggling, yelling, screaming, crying.

India, 61: The icons that make India

India has a swarming bazaar at nearly every street corner. It also has some enormous, especially fascinating, bazaars that are famous throughout the land -- Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Crawford Market in Mumbai, New Market in Kolkata, the peths of Pune, Burma Bazaar in Chennai, the Charminar area in Hyderabad.

These bazaars are often have a specialty -- Chandni Chowk has its mouthwatering, super-rich sweets; Charminar, its delicate bidri and pearls, Chowk in Lucknow for chikan embroidery items, Jaipur's Kishanpol bazaar for tie and dye and Anjuna Market, Goa, for its hippie ware.

Many bazaars come up once or a few times a year. These are even more exciting for their colour and size. Like Sonepur's giant elephant, cattle, horse and buffalo bazaar that comes up near the Gandak river in north Bihar. It is the largest animal fair in Asia, where an estimated one million heads of livestock are on sale. The winter camel fair in Pushkar, Rahjasthan, attracts tourists from the world over.

Exotic bazaars exist all across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but Indian bazaars may perhaps present the largest degree of contrast -- between old and new, poor and rich, shoddy and classy, and pleasant and unpleasant. And they always offer plenty to eat.

Text: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Also read: The great Indian heritage trains

Back | Next

© 2008 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.Disclaimer | Feedback