Bengaluru: Preparations are under way in Karnataka for Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival that marks the day when the sun starts to travel northwards from the tropic of Capricorn, marking the decline of winter.
Needless to say, this calls for special festival shopping - and one of the best places to pick up one's festival requirements in Bengaluru is Gandhi Bazaar, located in the south of the city. Not only is the bazaar popular, but is also one of the oldest and most traditional parts of the IT city.
Though the Bengaluru of 2015 is synonymous with Information Technology and modern day India, places like Gandhi Bazaar blend in beautifully with its small traditional shops selling exactly what is needed for ancient festivals such as Makar Sankranti.
We met a couple as they turned away from a beautiful flower stall. The lady was kind enough to open her basket and show us what they had been shopping. Along with a variety of flowers, there was puffed rice, sugarcane, jaggery, groundnuts and sesame seeds.
A special mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery, called ellu-bella, is mixed along with groundnuts and coconut and served as an essential delicacy of the festival. One can buy ready made packets - but many people prefer to mix and make it themselves. The couple also spoke to us of the traditional belief - that while eating this festival delicacy, one must speak only of good things.
Another little shop was eagerly showing us jaggery that they sold in special shapes. They also told us about organic jaggery from Kolhapure which they claimed was very popular.
As we walked along the colourful and lively street market, we saw huge stalks of sugarcane on display. Sugarcane is cut and distributed as part of Sankranti tradition. With festive shopping on the rise, the simple law of demand and supply never fails to play in favour of the traders, with prices of commodities becoming more expensive. Gandhi Bazaar was no exception to this.
In the rural areas, celebrations are even more fervent - Sankranti being a harvest festival after all. Cattle are worshipped and thanked for the vital role they play in the life of farmers and their families.
Though the celebration of traditional festivals seem to be on the decline in many urban centres, a visit to Gandhi Bazaar, seems like yesterday once more.