Revving up for the Diwali weekend, several melas have come up around Delhi selling idols, gulaal, handicrafts and household decorations. Here’s a short list of where you can go to satiate your festive needs after two years of the pandemic blues:
Notwithstanding the smorgasbord of colour, light, sound and food that is Dilli Haat on any given day, its festoons and celebrations have been cranked up to eleven for Diwali. Recipients of the National Award in traditional handicrafts have arrived in Delhi to sell their wares — everything from wall decorations to diyas to handmade textiles. Muzaffar Kashoo, a craftsman from Kashmir, shows off his wall plates made of papier-mâché that won him the state award in 2017. “This one took three months to make and has a very fine design,” he says. “We will be facilitated by the President on October 25.”
Sarvarn Kumar, a proprietor of Khadi textiles from Uttarakhand, says, “Women of our NGO, Navjoti, are involved in preparation of threads from charkhas, and stitch these fabrics. We come to Dilli Haat once or twice a year to sell these shirts, kurtas and shawls.”
Next to the main Green Park market, temporary stalls have come up with shelves stacked with Laxmi and Ganesh idols, sacks of gulaal powder and mounds of mud diyas.
“My father set up shop here before me, and we’ve been selling here annually for at least 20 years,” says Surinder Das, a retailer who has sourced his products from Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur. He will be at this stall till October 26.
Malti Singh has been running a flower shop in the market for 32 years, and annually appends a stall for Diwali knick-knacks with the help of her son, Rakesh Kumar. “We’ll keep this stall going till the 26th. Our products are sourced from Uttam Nagar and Sadar Bazaar.”
BLIND SCHOOL DIWALI MELA, NEAR THE OBEROI HOTEL
Arguably the most popular Diwali mela of Delhi, this mela organised by the Blind Relief Association is now 42 years old. It hosts more than 230 stalls crammed with every Diwali purchase you could need, from paper and stitched products to candles and home decor, a mixture of those handcrafted by trainees and trainers of the Blind School of the premises, and producers from all over India.
“This mela was started initially to show the public what visually impaired people can do, because of the notion [that they can’t do anything productive in society],” says Swapna Merlin, head of communications at Blind Relief Association, walking through the crowded tented interiors of the mela. “What most people don’t know is that we run many rehabilitation, educational and training programmes too for visually impaired people. The emphasis is to empower them for self-employment or entering the workforce through our placement cell.”