No sooner than the Navratras begin, an air of festivity takes over and everyone looks forward to the most popular and widely celebrated festival in India- Diwali. From days before, people across the country gear up for the ‘Festival of Lights’ not just with the spring cleaning of their homes but also shopping. Needless to say, this is the time when Delhi becomes a Mecca for shoppers- a time when even the smallest of the city markets come abuzz with colour and excitement. We draw up a list of some of the happening city markets.
Blind School Diwali Fair
Counted among the most awaited ‘melas’ organized a little before Diwali, this one is sure to make you go insane with the amazing things on offer. Right from the time go past the security checks, the grounds of the Blind School Relief Association start unveiling a number of colourful stalls- each selling something different and unique. However, the most popular one is the Blind School’s own stall that sells a variety of clay diyas and candles prepared by the institution’s talented, visually-challenged students.
Look out for the ‘mashaal’ lights created out of bamboo sticks. Also, don’t forget to take a look at their interesting range of notebooks, wrapping papers, gift bags and envelopes, pads and paper bags too- useful items that make excellent gifts and deserve to be picked up.
Then of course, are the stalls selling pretty planters in different shapes and sizes and, of course, healthy indoor plants to add a decorative touch to the home. The maze-like grounds are lined with innumerable stalls that take pride in offering different and creative things- be it beautiful figurines of gods and goddesses, funky lamps, wooden shelves together with window and photo frames, designer jewellery, cushions and coasters, shubh-deepavali danglers and lights, exotic outfits, feng-shui items and dry flowers.
This vibrant, eclectic marketplace is one you can’t get have enough of, any time of the year. But, around Diwali, the very air here is suffused with festive revelry. Walk past the Tibetan Market that is famous for its silver jewellery, precious and semi-precious stones, masks and ‘murtis’ of gods and goddesses, thangka paintings, etc.
It’s difficult not to be charmed by the colour and craftsmanship of the amazing wares on offer at the Gujarati Market lying close by. Sitting under the shade of huge trees, craftsmen and women sit selling ethnic bedsheets, cushion covers, pillow covers, bags and umbrellas- all beautifully embroidered with multi-hued threads and mirrors. A little ahead lies the flea market where you could pick up ethnic jewellery and some trendy clothes at fairly attractive bargains.
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This shoppers’ paradise is a vibrant bazaar that bursts into fun-filled activities and offers irresistible shopping bargains especially during Diwali. Evening time, as the air turns nippy, the haat is beautifully lit up with strings of lights and lamps. And the brick walled kiosks and thatched roof cottages, the open courtyards with shops selling a variety of mind-boggling wares all come alive with a magical air as buyers rush around looking to pick up creatively designed gift items including statues of Ganesha, Lakshmi and Saraswati, candles and diyas for their homes.
The labyrinthine streets of the historic Old Delhi that proudly stand against the backdrop of the mighty Jama Masjid are a world in itself. Despite the milling crowds that are synonymous with Chandni Chowk, a visit to this place is an absolute must, just a little before the Night of Lights. Old-timers will recall how Chandni Chowk was the go-to place for all kinds of crackers, till the time the government allowed them to be burst. However, there’s more that the erstwhile area of Shahjehanabad offers, like the vast varieties of dry fruits available in Khari Baoli. Then, there are shops in Chawri Bazaar that offer a variety of sweets- from lauj barfi to besan patisa, gulab barfi and gulab jamuns, etc. The younger generation is bringing in a change and experimenting with traditional sweets to offer an assortment of fine dessert – bites created out of alphonso, kiwi, strawberry, dry fruits, to name just a few that you can carry home and munch over a period of two months.
The pavements, especially in Sadar Market, are full of strings of plastic flowers and electric lights, stickers and wall hangings, colourful paper-cut hangings, candles, diyas, torans, etc.
Another market that many Diwali shoppers head to is Lajpat Nagar, especially when it comes to the variety offered in terms of festive wear- you get outfits, bags, accessories and shoes at fairly reasonable prices.
Outstation craftsmen also set up shops on pavements selling lights, candles, diyas, rangoli colours, besides paper decorations- all of which add that festive zing to your home.