Diwali Bazaar to stay exclusive to Delhi

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) The Blind Relief Association's Diwali Bazaar, being held here for nearly 30 years, gets overwhelming response from craftsmen as well as patrons every time, but the organisers say they do not have any plans to take it to other cities.

The week-long event, starting Saturday this year at the association's office at Lal Bahdaur Shastri Marg in south Delhi, will put up as many as 200 stalls - a few given free and others being charged - displaying items from candles, paper bags, women's wear, to decor and gift items and vegetarian dishes.

"The amount spent on the items and advertisement is recovered and we also make a profit. But we don't have any plans of organising a similar bazaar in other cities," K.C. Pande, the honorary executive secretary of the association, told IANS.

Out of the 200 stalls, one is dedicated to the association, an NGO. "Rest of the space we have rented out to designers, crafts persons and small entrepreneurs who are largely Delhi-based. Others are from Kolkata and Mumbai. This is an event to generate resources for the association," said Pande.

"We have charged approximately Rs.55,000, including service tax, for a 100 sq ft stall for seven days. We give free space to NGOs working in the field of disabilities," he added.

The earnings from Diwali Bazaar are used to finance the association's services like education, vocational training and rehabilitation for blind people.

Products like candles, carry bags, notepads and file covers are made by people trained or employed by the association.

Nandkishor Patidar, one of the blind participants, said he started working on his items 10 months ago.

"I work eight hours a day. So far I have helped in making different kinds of bottle bags and notepads," said Patidar, who was surrounded by strings and colourful papers.

The candles made of good-quality wax, terracotta, bamboos and metallic diyas will be sold at different prices like Rs.60 a dozen to Rs.900 depending on the size and material used in them.

Pande informed there is a slight change this year - unlike previous years, foot massage service won't be complimentary.

"We introduced foot massage service almost seven years back. It was complimentary, though people used to pay some amount. This time we have fixed a price for it," he said.

The foot massage service will now cost Rs.50 for 15 minutes.

The association provides free parking facility near the venue to ensure that the traffic doesn't get affected.

A free shuttle service is also available from the parking area to the venue. This was started in 2011.

Volunteers also contribute to making the event successful.

"It's been more than two years. I was in the corporate sector; then I joined the teaching profession. Now, I am helping here. The work for Diwali Bazaar starts from February. Be it folding or packing or sealing, I help in whichever way I can," said Rama Goswami.

Davinder Singh Seth, also a volunteer, joined the association three years back.

"I had my own generator business. I closed it. No cash or kind is involved here, but I am happy to give back to society in some way," he said.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in)