Malls are considered markers of the rapid urbanisation of many parts of India. However, even rural India has its own versions of these hubs of commerce and trade. Elita Almeida explores one such “mall” in Maharashtra.
Situated in the rain-prone pockets of the Sahyadris, Purushwadi – located near the Baltan Dam along the banks of the river Kurkundi that flows through the hillocks of Bhairavnath – was originally known as Puruchwadi, meaning ‘village located atop a hill’. Over the centuries, it seems to have undergone a geographical renaming of its own as local language modified with time.
Purushwadi comprises of 110 houses and close to 700 people who depend rather intensively on agriculture and animal husbandry as their primary means of livelihood and sustenance.
Given this dependence on cattle, it is hardly surprising that the purchase and sale of cattle assumes an almost festival-like proportion at least twice a year.
The first instance is an annual two-day exhibition that is organized during the month of May. This occurs over a Monday and a Tuesday, but people from all over the 40 neighbouring villages start pouring in from the preceding weekend itself. The second is known as Jaangi Uroos and is held during the second half of December. Locals attend as well as participate in both of these events. During the period of these events, locals camp and reside at the venue itself. These events are standalone, and in addition to the weekly Monday markets that happen all year through.
Rajur, at 12 km. from Purushwadi, is the convening centre where the trade of animals as well as wares takes place. The weekly bazaar includes sale of vegetables, fruits, spices, food grains, pulses, fish as well as cattle and poultry. It follows a unique system where, in the instance of the goat, when the buyer confirms the sale, the seller shears the animal as a sign of officiating the deal. A walk through the bazaar on a Monday does all kinds of things to one’s senses. Sellers hanker you to buy something over the call of another. You can witness the rainbow-tastic sight of colourful pulses and food grains piled up in mounds. The scent of spices wafts around you and teases your olfactory senses. Soft fabrics tickle your skin as you run your fingers through the clothes on display, contemplating a purchase. Saltine tingles dance on your tongue after you pick your favourite snacks from the local halwai.
It is truly a cornucopia of diverse experiences and sensations.
Come rain or sunshine, local bazaars offer more than a sneak peek into the microcosm that is the local culture and the way of life of folks who live a mere 200 km. away from the metropolis of Mumbai, where urban folks don’t have to wait for a Monday to make a dash to a DMart.
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