Every Mysurean seems to be out on a shopping spree and binge eating…
By B.C. Thimmaiah
Who does not love shopping? Shopping has no reason and if it is in the Holy Month of Ramzan, shopping at the crowded Meena Bazaar in Mysuru has its own significance. It is a place where you get a variety of items starting from a base Rs. 2 for hairpins to sarees, dresses, sherwanis and shoes that will burn a hole in your pockets.
Eid-ul-Fitr, the culmination of a month-long fasting during Ramzan, is also one of the biggest shopping seasons. This is the time when the newest trends in fashion are introduced. Shopping for new clothes is a norm during the season and the last few days of Ramzan are the busiest.
Teeming with shoppers all-round the year, Meena Bazaar comes alive in the month of Ramzan and Bakrid. During Ramzan, it is 24×7 market and you enter the street any time, it is full with vendors crying out to grab your attention with a lot of tempting discounts and shoppers bargaining for that best buy.
The stretch of Sawday Road from Ashoka Road on one end to K.T. Street on the other end is called the Meena Bazaar and along with permanent shops on the road, hundreds of temporary shops are set up for Ramzan bang on the middle of the road and the stretch remains out of bounds for vehicles. Vehicles are allowed only for the first couple of days after Ramzan begins and banned for the rest of the days till Eid (June 26, depending on sighting of the moon).
A casual walk along the over 2.5 kilometre road from Savoy Chowk till the City Crime Branch Office is the most refreshing and a pleasurable experience for shopaholics. The place is a must-visit for a number of people who just wait for almost a year for “Eid Shopping” to buy items of their choice from this area.
LED LIGHTS ADD TO GLITTER
Shoppers generally prefer to venture out after breaking their fast in the evening. After 6 pm, the area is filled with permeating smell of samosas, kebabs and other fried items and LED lights add glitter to the already lively atmosphere. While roadside shops display mannequins adorned with garments to woo fashionistas with their designs and style, other vendors use their voice and a particular style of announcing how cheap their products are and how much discount they can offer.
Shopkeepers, pushcart traders, sellers with just a couple of wooden boxes take vantage positions on the street and call out to shoppers their wares.
An epicentre of high-voltage business, Meena Bazaar is famous for chain-shopping or link-shopping where men and women match their clothes already purchased with shimmering bangles, colourful accessories including bags, goggles, belts and pyjamas. Colour matters the most here with young women clamouring for scarlet reds, parrot greens and bright yellows.
Meena Bazaar stocks up vermicelli (sewain) and Agra Ka Petha, a type of candy that originated from Agra. Varieties of dates including the attractively packed ones in stylish bowls and jars, which can be given as gift to friends and colleagues, are sold here. Makeshift stalls sell skull caps for namaz.
“I have been running a shop here since 1983 and since then, the customers’ response is good and lower and middle class families mostly visit this market,” said Fairoz Pasha, who sells juices, sharbats and lassis.
Earrings, bracelets and bangles in every shape and vivid colour are in place along with bright pottery items.
“Customers can try out the imitation jewellery that this market is famous for. Various clothes shoes, accessories and all wedding and festivals, dress and dress material are sold in this market,” said Mohammad Bashir, another vendor.
ALL-COMMUNITY SHOPPING PLACE
Meena Bazaar is famous and favourite not only for the Muslim community but for others too who throng the place enjoying the whiff of the aroma of samosas and sweets. People from other communities, especially students throng the area to eat mouth-watering snacks and drink cooling special drinks.
The bazaar, which wears a deserted look in the morning, attracts people by noon and it turns into a beehive of activity in the evening that goes up till late in the night.
“Since the last 10 years, I have seen thousands of shoppers from all communities coming here along with their families to purchase goods. On a normal day, shops open from around 9 am to 9 pm. During Ramzan we open our shops at around 10 am and remain open till midnight. As Eid nears, it is 24×7 activity,” said Rafi Ahmed Khan who sells aquarium fish and exotic birds.
WHY MEENA BAZAAR
Asked why the name Meena Bazaar for this street, Rafi said, “Many big cities have their own Meena Bazaars especially where Muslim population is concentrated. Here too, this might be the reason. You get almost everything here — to eat, to sport and to flaunt. It is a place to shop for all occasions — marriage, festival, childbirth, anniversaries and funeral.”
EVERY INCH PRECIOUS
A vantage point or the centre of the road in Meena Bazaar is prime property for vendors. They sell their wares literally on the road leaving narrow passages for shoppers and visitors to pass, jostling for space.
“Every inch is precious here. I cannot leave this place as somebody else will occupy and I will lose business. Even for toilet breaks, I ensure that my brother is here to guard business,” said Syed Azam who sells perfumes specially prepared for festival season.
It is not just the shoppers who make a beeline for Meena Bazaar, even foodies visit the area in large numbers as a number of eateries prop up during Ramzan in the surrounding areas.
Food kiosks are generally open when the fast is broken and they sell traditional and popular Ramzan special traditional snacks and dishes. Sheek kebabs, shami kebabs, a host of samosas, chicken rolls, haleem, crushed ice fruit juices, dry fruit faloodas, are among the most sought-after food items here.
The Police and shopkeepers have installed several CCTV cameras at vantage points to spot mischief-mongers and shoplifters who are generally active in this crowded area. Separate Police kiosks have also been set up to maintain order.
Shoppers coming to Meena Bazaar can park their vehicles on Ashoka Road and at the vast Mandi Park near Savoy Chowk. They can also park their vehicles near the Mission Hospital and take a short walk to Meena Bazaar.