Monday, September 05, 2005

Life in Bangalore: A Local Market Preps for the Ganesha Festival

The Ganesha festival is right around the corner and markets in Bangalore are resplendent with color. The Jayanagar 4th Block market is no exception.

The Jayanagar market is a haven for old-style stores (no Fabmalls, Coffee Days or Big Bazaars in the good ol' complex). It is the mecca of old-style shopping, the kind in which you haggle shamelessly. No bar codes or scanners here.

The complex itself is sprawling and has many entrances. In addition to book stores, luggage stores, clothes and shoe shops, and a supermarket, the shopping complex is home to an indoor market with a maze of shops selling everything from vegetables, fruits, and stationery to all the items you need for a puja.

While plantain shoots and mango leaves arrive at the market only during festivals... are a daily feature

The indoor market has four entrances. All the pathways leading upto the four entrances are prime real estate and on any given day, these pathways are permanently lined with fruit, vegetable and flower stalls. On days preceding a major festival, the pathways themselves become the destination. More stalls manage to appear in already cramped spaces. You could get away with not bothering to enter the enclosed market.

Which would be a pity.

The enclosed market is an ode to stimulus overload. For the first time visitor, it is nothing short of an assault on the senses.

The scent of agarbathis and camphor clashes in mid-air with the mild stench of the just-beginning-to-rot fruits and vegetables. The flower stalls try to out-do them all, but in vain.

The makeshift shop on the right specializes in Ganesha and Gowri idols.

A tiny shop within the complex holds everything you might need for the puja.

There are stores that sell only coconuts, all the same brown color, and there is a whole lane of stores devoted to decorating items in every shade, even some that nature never intended. There are stores that make and sell photographs of gods right next to a store selling pets. There are stores selling crimson kumkum and sunny yellow haldi and then there are stores that sell decorations made in plain white cotton. There are stores that sell carpets, clocks, steel utensils, sheets, towels, plastic papers and cups, napkins, decorations for birthday parties, and stores that sell hooks to hang your mosquito nets.

Mounds of kumkum and haldi...

...mimicked by mounds of fruit.

Shoppers crowd around the tiny shops, all vying for the attention of the shopkeeper at the same time. No lines here. Lung power trumps chronology. Shopkeepers with no shoppers at their stalls call out hopefully, "En beku madam? Banni nodi" ("Madam, what do you want? Come, see").

One circumnavigation of the market is enough to make you want to see the light of day.

An entire row of shops dedicated to decorations.

Crossposted on Everymanscity.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Jesus..what a fabulous post. I'm totally nostalgic for Bangalore now particularly since I've begun looking for a Ganesha to buy for tomorrow's puja and my first reaction being " Dear God, why don't they make it like in Bangalore?" Thanks again! :)

Chandan V said...

Wow.. Nice insights of India and Bangalore. For old style store Ghandi Bazaar is also an ideal place. Very ideal for casual walk in the evening. We cld hear the birds making noise and ppl bargaining. Hmmmm And how can we miss Vidyarthi Bavan's Masala Dosas and a stroll at Krishna rao park. I've written an article abt an idleal evening in blore that may interest you. The link is

In btwn keep making waves it has an effect.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Ravi: You're welcome! Thanks for linking my blog in your post.

You go looking for Bangalore ganeshas whereas my mom is at the market right now looking for ganeshas in the "mysore" style. She's nostalgic for the place she grew up in! I never knew the ganeshas were so different.

Chandan: Thanks for visiting and commenting. Yes! Gandhi Bazaar is great as well. If I can't go there within the next couple of days, will definitely get pics of it during deepavali. Thanks for the link to your article. I'll definitely check it out.

Karthik: I love walking into the chaos as long as I'm not rushed. Yesterday was really nice. I did not buy a thing (well, just bananas, no puja related stuff), but walked around, talked to the shopkeepers, took photographs. Felt good to be in the thick of things.

Happy ganesha habba to all of you and your families.

Unknown said...

This Blog definately gets me nostalgic about my childhood in Mumbai..
Nothing beats the loud excited "Ganapati Bappa Morya", those "Sarvajanik Ganesh" Pandals,sweet Maharshtrian Modaks.
And also my Aunts tatte idlis,

God, Iam missing must once go to mumbai for ganesh chaturthi...

Ganesh said...

Nices pics
Came throu Ravi
good to see a fellow Washingtonian well ex-washingtonian doing well back home :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

My first visit to your blog. The pictures are simple yet say a thousand words- I guess it is because of the colors. :)

And yes, your prose is very nice.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Shubha: Good happy memories. Will definitely try to get to Mumbai for one of the Ganesh chaturthis.

Ganesh: Thank you, and thanks for visiting and commenting. Very nice to get a visit from a fellow-Washingtonian.

Truman: You're welcome and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Sunil said...

Extreme nostalgia.....(it's the worst during festivals).

Didn't know you're from Jayanagar. I spent my life there, and home is still there. Small world :-)

My mom just told me about the larger number of paint-free idols at the market (9th block).

Sourin Rao said...

Ganesh Chaturthi means "kadbus", sweet and plain, and watching the hordes at Juhu beach for the immersion.

More importantly, what do you do for GC ? How do u celebrate it for the lil guy ? Does he undertsand the significance of all the fuss and all that good stuff ?

Sujatha Bagal said...

Sunil: I know what you mean about the nostalgia.:)

Well, the next time you come home, you have to visit me.

Yeah, that's where my mom got her ganesha too. Over the past couple of years, they've switched to a metal idol, but use a very small paint-free idol for the visarjane. But still, there are a lot more of the painted ones in the market.

Sourin: Yeah, he absolutely does. He had a little cultural program at school on monday where he was in a ganesha prayer dance, plus he was at the market with me while I was taking the photographs. We are off today to my parents' house and my in-laws' house for the habba, where he will sound the bell when the priest tells him to. So he's totally immersed in it and thoroughly enjoying it!

Hey, what happened to your chennai trip?

gawker said...

I didn't know Bangalore is big on ganesh chaturthi. I thought it was a Maharashtra thing. Nice pictures.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sujatha
I will not be able to post comments on your ' Indian Recipes '
blog site. Aagrr..(not fair) I do not wish to open a blog account.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sujatha.. am facing a similar problem as Rajeshwari.. I do not wish to have a account so I cant post comments too.
Meanwhile, please do post some recipes which do not involve "too much" cooking.. you know "quick fix" kinds :)o

Sujatha Bagal said...

Rajeshwari, Truman: Thanks for telling me about this. I'll fix it.

Anonymous said...

happy vinayaka chaturti. loved what you have said about stimulus overload - true of most markets in India... I used to live close to Jayanagar and remember the chaos at 4th block - and the eternal fight to find parking :)

Sujatha Bagal said...

Gawker: Thanks. It's probably not as big as in Mumbai, but it's more than enough for the size and temperament of Bangalore.

Charu: Thanks. Happy Ganesha habba to you as well. Hope you had a nice celebration. The fight for parking goes on unabated.:( From your previous comments I had an inkling that you might have lived here.:) Sunil, as well.

This is one of the reasons I love blogging. I've met so many thoughtful, bright, smart, caring, intelligent souls that I may have never met even if we all lived in the same city at the same time!

Anonymous said...

S, that's just why I love blogging too - one of the main reasons definitely :))

Anshul said...

Extremely well written and I love the colorful pics, although I'm not from Bangalore. But, I do relish the atmosphere you created in your blog while sitting in U.S.A. Revives nostalgic memories about India.

Keep writing!

Sujatha Bagal said...

Charu: :))

Anshul: Welcome and thank you! But right now, I do live in Bangalore, so it was easy to pop into the Jayanagar market the day-before-yesterday!:)))

Unknown said...

The Market in Jayanagar IVth block is one of my favorite places, as you can tell from my pic. Thanks for sharing :0)

Sujatha Bagal said...

John, I love the cartoon depiction of the market. It's cool!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

hi ma'am..this is rashmi here..well it is very nice to see some one writing about the jayanagar market..which is close to so many of our hearts..well the main thing why im here, is to thank u for writing this blog because it was very helpful for us in our field studies we were assigned to cover jayanagar market..and we could not find any information about the market especially...once again thanks a lot ma'am!

Sujatha Bagal said...

Hi Rashmi, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I'm glad this essay was helpful to you. Good luck.

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me where can i get a Mumbai type Ganesha Idol in bangalore, as they are really pretty

Unknown said...

@ Rishi: I didnt quite understand what you meant by Mumbai style.
Try Indiranagar or Thippasandra markets, many Maharashtrians reside in those areas so the chances of getting something similar are higher. Try Koramangala market area too.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Thanks Shubha. You're a doll. :)

Anonymous said...

Great pictures and postings..keep it coming..

Unknown said...

Hey Sujata, You seem so well versed with 4th block. I wondering if you knew any store which has a large collection of used second hand books. I am desperatley looking to buy some for my 8 and 3 year old.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Hi Mridula, I don't know of any second-hand bookstores in 4th block, but there is one on a street parallel to Brigade Road called the Select Book Store. Hope you find what you need there.