Category Archives: Festival Market: Post Cards

photos of festivals in different countries

Photo Essay: Flowers – A Way of Life, Art and Business.

Standard

Indian culture is almost incomplete without flowers. Flowers have an important value in tradition, culture and religion. Spiritually too flowers and blooms add positive effect to home and mental well being. They signify love, beauty, happiness and  generosity. Give a bouquet of flowers to a patient, friend or a loved one and see that instant wide smile.

     Flowers take the tears of weeping night, and give them to the 

                              sun for the day’s delight. 

Joseph Cotter.

From dawn to sunset it’s a hectic time for flower gatherers and sellers. Flower picking, sorting, packaging and delivering to markets and then making garlands and selling them is a long day’s process. Whether they are used for decorating homes, for festivals, weddings, adding grace to a bride’s hairdo or offerings in a temple, flowers find their way into every Indian home! In Ayurveda and medicine also flowers of Basil (Tulsi), Coriander and Jasmine are widely used. Many a Bollywood song and dance sequence are in the midst of blooms. ‘Phool khile hai gulshan gulshan’ and phool tumhe bheja hai khaat mein describe the beauty of blooming gardens and sending flowers in love letters.

A trip to Bengaluru flower market

Malleshwaram and adjacent Yeshwantapuram street markets in Bengaluru, India were buzzing at 10 am. Women vendors busy completing arranging flowers, men making garlands of 3-4 kg. each, decorating them with glitter, and customers who wanted to offer flowers to the nearby temples made for a colourful sight. This place is not near the famous KR market, which is in the heart of the city).

Thanks to my dear friends who took me and guided me with many a local story and flower name as we busied ourselves with photo taking.

Street market, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru

Mounds of coral coloured Kanakambaram, yellow tiny petaled chamanti or crysanthemum, fragrant white malligai, pinkish white jaji malligai, petals of fragrant red roses, blossoms of orange marigolds or banti phulu and other deep purple crispy flower heads, the scene was surely a photographer’s delight! Forget the shabbily erected wooden platforms and petals strewn on the floor underneath, both men and women sellers had no time to waste looking at us with our cameras. They sensed we were not the ‘interested’ buyer!

 

Lakshmiamma and Narsaiiah are two such vendors who rise early at 2 am each day and buy flowers from the main market haggling for the right price of the day. Back home with heavy baskets, they begin to sort, pack and make malai for selling, along with family or others from community. By 7 am they have few baskets ready, lined with tender green banana leaves to wrap the flowers in. Off to the market, to set up shop, carrying their tiffin food. They (like other vendors) will spend much of the day sitting crouched or cross legged busy tying assorted flowers to make garlands and sell.

‘ It’s Friday today, day for praying to the Devi goddess‘ reminded my friend. Prices go up, especially for flowers used for temple offerings – like malli, kanakambaram, red hibiscus, lotus and Tulsi These flowers are associated with Indian Gods and Goddesses ( mind you, there are hundred different ones!) but Lakshmi, Vishnu, Saraswati, Kanak Durga and Maa Kali to name a few.

Flower garlands for temples and weddings

We watched a group of men working fast and concentrated on stringing white tuberose flowers. They inserted a long needle into the tubular end towards making a huge garland. To make it circular, each time 8 flowers were stranded diagonally. After measuring about 3 inches in height, they would then add 1-2 inches of rose flowers and folded assorted green leaves for a colour change. A garland would take 2 people about 4 hours and would weigh between 2-5 kg. Sold at Rs. 500 to Rs. 800 per piece, depending upon the weight and type of flowers the  garlands are truly works of creativity, besides being a photgrapher’s or artists delight.

Next stall a vendor delightfully called us to see specially crafted small ‘veni’ or malai made with tightly closed white buds. These veni are specially given to married women and young brides to decorate their hairdo’s on festive occasions. Extra thoughtful touch of this street artist to tie the buds in coloured threads of blue, green and red to match the wearer’s traditional saree. Sold at Rs. 70 each,for a small piece, they were special.

”Çome, come”….waved another vendor, eager for us to take some exotic photos. Bright pink rose petals tied tightly to form a long pendular piece and finished off with rolled tubular green leaves.’Where did you learn this?’I inquired. “From my father came the reply, I used to sit with him after school hours, now I own this business.”

Such artists find work ONLY if there is a customer! And exotic garlands and bouquets of flowers do not come cheap, and depend on the climate and season.

The traditional ever fragrant malligai malai was in circular mounds, flowers came from Belgaum or far away Madurai, world famous for these flowers. ( Even BBC travel magazine has an article dedicated to it.) Each ‘more’ or hand length sold for about Rs. 30, price adjusted higher for the festivals and puja season. These fragrant white jasmine strings are most popular with women. At times they are interspersed with rose petals, orange buds or green fragrant marjoram leaves to give a colourful twist.

Bride’s jada malai or garland for bridal hair do.

Not just flowers, but tender coconut leaves are crafted into Thoran used to decorate doors, a wedding dias or mandap and temple gateways. Deft hands and time tested experience is required to be able to source the best leaves and twist them as needed. ( I’ve seen elaborate similar craft in S.E. Asia, especially in Bali for temple decorations).

coconut leaves thoran or pendular hangings

This write up just cannot be complete without the highlight of our outing. Saving the best to the last!

There was a (trained) Indian bull commonly called Kole Basava parading the busy street, and his care taker played tunes on his pipani or shehnai. The bull was adorned with embellishments, trinkets and ankle bells and clothes, donated by people in exchange of blessings. Strings of colourful flowers- red, roses, yellow crysanthemums, white jasmine were tied around his neck and horns, the simplicity and purity of flowers was Mother Nature’s best way to decorate the animal.

We took lots of photos with this ‘special’ animal, as the Kole Basava or Gangi Reddu ( as called in Andhra) visits homes and market people only around Sankranti festival. The caretaker played some old traditional tune for us on his pipani, in exchange for some alms. The Kole Basava are a surviving folk art form, and the community lives on alms. The bull is taken from village to village, house to house and they collect and survive on the donated grain and clothing. The bull is much revered to date, as people seek his blessings.

At the end of our visit it was time to tuck some fresh malligai into my hair known for its natural perfume. The trip however would be incomplete without the traditional Udipi dosa and filter kapi. Rightly so, it was the next stop.

Do tell us if you have visited a flower market and what did you see there ? Or leave your comments on this article if it has interested you. 

For another flower market see here.

 

Festival Markets: Nostalgic Childhood Memories of Diwali Celebrations

Standard

Image result for diwali images

Photo Courtesy:Internet :Holiday Spot.

Year 2018 Diwali comes knocking at our door. Whilst cleaning  the puja altar and preparing easy sweet treats, my cravings for the crunchy chakli, a lentil and spice based savoury and ghee laden karanji or khajjikaya bring back childhood memories. Did my old paternal aunt just knock at our door? I wish! Those were the fun-filled, aroma wafting days of a busy kitchen. Aunt used to help Mother to prepare big boxes of Diwali Faral treats. As children, we would patiently hide behind the kitchen doors, eager to hear the first call to taste the delicacies.

Here I share with you my home made Diwali Faral.

Home made Diwali treats

My friends and I ordered some dry fruit barfi and doodh pak online, keeping with the technology. We also visited our local store and bought some Faral off the shelves, that of course did not taste the same as home-made. Less cooking, less cleaning and no visit to the grocery stores are the choices of the day.  Weight watching, diabetes and BP have added to the lack lustre of relishing Diwali sweets, let alone preparing them.

Lighting of clay lamps and bursting crackers is an important part of the festival. Bright lamps signify light over darkness, good over evil. Traditionally clay lamps are made by the kumbhar potter communities. Life celebrated each person’s role in society and home – their ability, social involement and artistic qualities. Be it the simple kumbhar or the rich Bania merchant, the manual labourer or the wealthy household.

I rushed to buy some new clay lamps, traditionally old ones are discarded, another eco friendly concept. Roadside stalls, wheel carts, supermarket shelves, flower shops – all filled up every inch of space with different sizes and colours of these traditonal and modern diyas.  

As the sun goes down, rows of little oil filled diyas will beautify door entrances of every Hindu home, a symbolic representation to drive out negativity and darkness and illumine the home and heart. I filled out vibrant colours in the rangoli at the doorstep, inviting Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga – each one celebrated for wealth, learning and courage. I was once again reminded of childhood memories when mother, aunt and friends gathered together discussing Rangoli patterns, importance of placement of dots, lines and curves -it was fun-filled learning at the doorstep of each home.

Contrast that with shops in recent times, flooded with pre cut Rangoli plastic sheets, plastic flowers, crafted thermocol pieces to decorate the home. Creativity and business, a move away from the threshholds of home. Add Goggle websites and videos for up-to-date technology. Who needs an artistic neighbour or Aunt? Where is the time and interest? Demands of work pressure at office and nuclear families at home caves in to no involvement, no dedication and decreasing traditional spirit!

Rangoli –  Courtesy:Internet – happyshappy.

Related image

Last but not the least – wearing new clothes and discarding old ones is customary. ”Declutter” – not just your home, body …but also your mind is the message given out through cultural knowledge. Wearing handmade ghagra or lengha and choli, bending over the sewing machine, learning how to thread the beads and laces on to the dress was another nostalgic learning moment, a time for bonding together with elder ladies of the house. A once a year gift to be treasured!

Instead, come visit the mall and revel in multi colours of the shelves and hanging sarees, see the extra-large street hoardings, newspaper advertisements spread over entire sheets during the pre Diwali shopping spree. Try buying online, there are dedicated FB pages. Designers are selling pre ordered clothing, that reaches every corner of India, and the world over, be it Toronto, or Melbourne. http://www.fabindia.com, http://www.utsavsarees.com, Naqshi, Chakor and Saree Speak on FB are some examples.

Fast cash and more incomes, internet connectivity and consumerism and other social pressures are fast changing the deep rooted traditions and symbolic meanings of the festive spirit. ‘Change is the only constant” and it applies here too.

Fancy dresses for Diwali sales

See here for an earlier post on Diwali

Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

It’s time now to fill the oil in the lamps, light the diyas and prepare for arriving friends to share the sweets and festive warmth.

Happy Diwali to all my Hindu friends, family and blogging family. May you have prosperity, warmth and good health. May you share your goodwill and bounty with others.

All content and images copyright belong to Veena S. (2013 -2018) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.comPlease see copyright disclaimer.

 

Festival Market:The Spot Festival, Sydney

Standard
Festival Market:The Spot Festival, Sydney

Remember the nostalgic moments of countryside folk markets popular for food and street plays? Remember as a child you almost got lost in the crowds while buying an ice cream? Remember tapping to the live band and sharing some laughs with school friends at summer festival markets?

Well, recently Randwick, Sydney had it all at their popular festival market.

At the end of the summer (in the southern hemisphere in March) this event takes place annually. Randwick is a suburb in Sydney. It suddenly becomes a great cultural melting pot during this event. ‘The Spot Festival’ proudly attracts not just the local Aussies( as they are called locally), but Greeks, French, Indian, Sri Lankan, Eastern Europeans and Lebanese that make up part of Sydney’s cultural melange. It’s amazing and interesting to hear so many dialects just on one street in Sydney’s suburb!

Music, entertainment, food and craft stalls. The festival market has it all – Enjoy the outdoors in summer, as long as it lasts.

The Spot Festival Market, Sydney

Perouse street, a short walk down the main street of Randwick begins pulling in crowds from 11 am. The dress sense is casual and summery: T shirts, shorts, flowing skirts, a sun hat and eye shades and sandals or flip-flops. ‘The Spot’ building and adjoining restaurants and cafes become a convenient meeting place where a cacophony of voices rise with the growing crowd.

For details see here  http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/community/whats-on/the-spot-festival/about-the-spot-festival

The market boasted a wide array of local craft. Home made scented candles, jars and bottles of fruit jam and tomato pickle, exotic fragrant soaps – all made by women entrepreneurs. The packaging, hygiene and display were excellent, perfect for gifting a hamper or present! Other stalls had paintings, caricatures, French linen and Indian block print summer wear.

Exotic scented candles

Exotic things don’t come cheap. And cheap things don’t smell or taste so good! Go shop local ware.

A stage was set up at the end of one street. Jazz Blues, popular beats, Karaoke and stage plays kept the crowds entertained.

The opposite end of the street was a ‘children’s zone.’

Photo courtesy: easternsuburbsmums.com

Gleeful children enjoyed face painting, chasing rainbow soap bubbles, lifting Helium balloons into the air and licking candy, slushes and Ice creams. Loud, happy laughter filled the air, and colourful festoons hung above from the trees and shop terraces. However, for a little quiet time (if baby or pregnant mummy wanted a rest on a hot day!) there was a nappy changing room and a mobile ‘Library on Wheels’ filled with big bright children’s books.

Wait…don’t miss out on the food! That’s half the reason to be here. Fancy a burger and chips or Mexican burrito and salsa? The Turkish Gozleme (spinach and cheese pancake), Lebanese bread, South Asian sugarcane juice and Indian /Sri Lankan chicken rice and Naan stood up for the competition too.

A fun day full of vibrant atmosphere and colour. A day to tickle the palate with variety of cuisines. A day to enjoy a temperate summer. A day to meet up with friends and family for free live music and dance. Or, a day to sip an Expresso or Latte in the nearby cafes and write about the crowds.

Next year, BE THERE! The Spot Festival, Sydney 2019.