Monthly Archives: October 2014

The unstoppable festive spirit : Diwali Bazaars of India

The last leg of any year is probably the one that I eagerly look forward to. Festivals and carnivals galore across the world. Being an Indian, it’s the best time of the year and I can never get enough of the festive spirit that soaks every part of this beautiful country. It’s the time to come home to Mom’s wonderful food, to hog on street food stalls, to nudge elbows in crowded festival bazaars, to buy all the bling-y clothes from heavily embellished shops, to haggle for almost everything that’s on sale, to click photos of anything and everything, to let the ‘Chi’ of your habitat be blessed with everything that’s auspicious. 

Nowadays whenever I open my web browser and surf, I find plenty of commercial Ads from tour operators for tour packages for ‘Christmas’ markets in Austria, Denmark, Belgium and many countries of Europe. I stay in England and definitely agree that these markets are worth a visit when on full bloom. A thought crossed my mind this week while I was in India, that Indian festivals are so grand and we shop till we drop for them, then why don’t our Festival Bazaars feature in the way like that of our western counterparts. While I was walking through these crowded ‘gallis’ (streets) of a Diwali Bazaar in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh in India, I thought to put together some quick shots from this Bazaar in my Blog today.

Diwali…One of the largest festivals celebrated by Indians across the world. Popularly known as the festival of lights as people light earthen lamps on a dark No moon Night to celebrate the mythological lesson of victory of good over evil.
As I walked on a very hot afternoon through a Diwali Bazaar, it was not only a delight but an interesting journey to see how every person in the Bazaar, irrespective of the weight of his or her wallet, looks forward to buy a share of this festivity for his or her home and family.

Handmade earthern lamps being sold in the Diwali Baazar.
All around the Bazaar one can see a heap of these Earthen Lamps being sold by girls and ladies who come all the way from their villages to sell them.

A village lady selling Earthern lamps
While, the traditional earthen lamps make their way in every house, we are also bitten by the Chinese bug here. Fluorescent Chinese Lanterns with ‘Happy Diwali’ written and images of Hindu Gods hanging in the streets.

Chinese Lanterns

The quintessential ‘Rangoli‘ which is traditional Indian art design made by loose dry colored powder or flour or flowers is a must have auspicious accessory of Diwali in every home. Generally drawn at the entrance of the house, this welcomes wealth and prosperity into the house on Diwali. The bazaars galore with colors of Rangoli.

Beautiful heaps of colors of Rangoli
For the more perfect and flawless designs these ‘design mesh’ are a great buy. Beautiful display of their designs in the Bazaar.
Easy to make, No Nonsense Rangoli patterns drawn with the Sieve or Mesh
Diwali is a lot about decorating your house. I remember as a child cleaning every nook and corner of the house few days ahead of the festival. Chasing cobwebs, wiping every piece of furniture clean and then decorating with the house with flowers, trinkets, dainty traditional hangings. The essence still remains, however its more plastic and Chinese now.
Plastic flower garlands for adorning the house
A seller selling terracotta hangings of bells and idols. 
Well, with all decorations and beautifying the house, aren’t we trying to please someone? Oh yes. Its the Gods above whose blessings we seek for all goodness. Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu who is the Goddess worshiped for wealth and prosperity on Diwali. And yes, like everything else the Almighty finds its place as well on the sale window.
Idols of Goddess Lakshmi accompanied by other goddesses in the Bazaar
So when we are talking about pleasing the Gods for prosperity, don’t we have to find ways to tickle their taste buds too. Our Gods are a little too inclined towards food that is high on sugar.(Diabetes alert!) Crystallized sugar sweets locally called ‘Batasha‘ is a photographers delight with colorful cubes piled on baskets. Well, before the Gods, its the Bees which seem to be gracing it.
‘Batasha’. Colored quirky shapes of crystallized sugar

Exchanging dry fruits is a popular practice among families on Diwali. And there are small, large and some really humongous packs in the Bazaar with very colorful wrappers.
Ready to pick dry fruits packs
If in Central India, how can you not have the local savories for Diwali. Called as ‘Namkeen‘ made of flour, spices and deep fried, these are probably the yummiest food in the streets in the Bazaar for me.
Gram flour fried snacks called ‘Namkeen’
Puffed rice baskets make its way in the Bazaar. This is offered as an offering to God in the Pujas on Diwali.

No marketplace in the world is complete if it doesn’t cater to its most important customer…The beautiful Women 🙂
Diwali is a time when the ladies have a bash at emptying their wallets. Flowing sarees, colorful fabrics, the tinkle of bangles, the dark deep kohl for those longing shopaholic eyes, this Bazaar is another of her playgrounds.
Bright and colorful sarees in a saree shop
Colorful glass and metal Bangles galore in the Bazaar. A common accessory for Indian women
A seller in a Bangle shop

Phew…going around this beautiful marketplace is so delightful. As the sun smiles benevolently, more and more eager shoppers flood the Bazaar haggling, choosing and buying their favourite Diwali items. Smiling faces of the shoppers, contended smiles of the sellers, eager eyes of the kids, the tinkle of the temple bells, this is truly an experience which is more overwhelming that the festival itself which we all eagerly await to welcome
Fire crackers for sale. No Diwali is complete without lighting the sky with these sparkling fireworks.
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