Connect with us


Delhi’s weekly markets, a window to the city’s culture, back in business



On Sunday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority issued an order allowing all weekly markets in the city to operate from this Monday

New Delhi: As it started raining on Sunday afternoon, Mohammad Ishmail quickly ran into his four-square-meter residence at the Jagdamba Camp slum cluster near Chirag Dilli to check if the roof was leaking once again. Inside, there was a mattress with no bedsheet, a plastic chair, a table made of plywood, and an intriguing assortment of plastic soap cases, tiny mirrors, pocket-sized combs, cheap wallets, and razors lay spread over a thin rug on the floor.

“There is more inside the trunk,” said the 38-year-old pointing towards a metal trunk that looked heavy, as he quickly fixed a plastic sheet covering a tiny hole on the tin-ceiling of his residence in the slum.

Ishmail is a traveling merchant, who keeps moving from one weekly market – popularly called Hafta Bazar – to another in the city in usual times for a living. At a hyperlocal level, most such Hafta Bazars are often named after the day of the week on which they operate – such as Mangal Bazar for weekly markets operating on Tuesdays, Budh Bazar for those operating on Wednesdays, and so on.

Most such markets are closed for months in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ishmail expects to be back in business from Monday, and the products that lay spread on the floor were fished out of the same trunk. He said, “Tomorrow, I shall be at the Mehrauli Hafta Bazar selling these goods. You can find me there. On Tuesdays, I am at Usmanpur. Wednesdays in Chirag Delhi. It is good that the government has finally taken a decision in our favor.”

On Sunday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) issued an order allowing all weekly markets in the city to operate from this Monday – essentially putting into implementation an announcement by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal the previous day, stressing on how these markets have to be preserved as a large number of poor people depend on them for their livelihood.


On August 2, the Delhi High Court asked the city government to consider reopening weekly markets.

As Delhi witnessed its worst Covid-19 wave, which left the city’s health infrastructure overwhelmed, the government implemented a lockdown on April 19. As Covid-19 cases started to decline, the government started with a phased relaxation process from May 31, and by mid-June they allowed one weekly market to operate per day per municipal zone.

Delhi has 12 municipal zones, said a senior official in the government’s revenue department, which essentially means 84 weekly markets have more or less been functional in the city for the last two months.

“But Delhi has more than 2,500 small and big weekly markets in total. From traders to suppliers and laborers, they engage lakhs of people. Around 250 such markets are quite prominent in the city including the ones in Shastri Park, Red Fort, Yamuna Pushta, Mandawali, Vasant Kunj, and Karkardooma. So, the one market per day per municipal zone means many of them were suspended and the traders associated with those markets were in distress,” said Arbind Singh, national coordinator of the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), an advocacy group.


The lockdown imposed because of the pandemic threw thousands into distress and Ishmail was among them. He recalled how he had to send his wife, who is a domestic worker, and nine-year-old son, to his extended family which resides at a village in Bihar’s East Champaran district.

Not having the weekly markets functional near their residences was trouble for customers too.

“Not having the weekly market functional in the neighbourhood was quite a problem. They offer a wide range of household essentials and we depend on that. But, yes, people should follow Covid-19 regulations without any compromise,” said Ganga Devi, a resident of New Ashok Nagar neighbourhood in east Delhi where three weekly markets in the vicinity have been non-functional for the last two months.

Weekly markets in Delhi sell a wide range of products – rolling pins, kitchen knives, plastic toys, woollens, toiletries, garments, bangles, lipsticks, face creams, razors, stationeries, vegetables, fruits, spices, cooking oil, pickles, papad and what not. They largely cater to lower-income group households.

“I see them more as a cultural thing,” said Rana Safvi, a Delhi-based historian and writer. “Where do you find bangle sellers in Delhi these days who used to walk around in localities selling their merchandise? In the weekly markets, you see such merchants. Traditionally a lot of them offered space to village residents in Delhi to display handmade products. While those rural areas turned into urban villages, such weekly markets remained. In most of them, the traders know their regular clients and they often form a bond.”

It is quite likely that such bonds between merchants and clients have helped the former read the demographic demands better and innovate. For instance, several weekly markets in the city which function in areas inhabited by large numbers of people from Bengali and Odiya communities sell fish, several of them located in areas inhabited by North-East Indian communities sell packed dried fish and bamboo shoots.

Film-maker and writer Sohail Hashmi highlighted the historical roots of Delhi’s weekly markets. He said, “When contending armies fought for the control of Delhi, the residents of its villages had to suffer violence. It is said that Mohammad bin Tughlaq once erected a wall around his new capital city of Bijay Mandal, which is located near current-day localities Begum Pur, Sarvodya enclave, and Sarvapriya Vihar. It would be a wall that would enclose within its folds his fort and all the surrounding villages and their lands. He named it Jahan Panah. A large part of the wall was demolished around 20 years ago to widen the Aurobindo Marg. Another part of the wall runs along the present-day Jahapanah Forest. The Sat Pula on the Saket-Sheikh Sarai Road near the Chirag Dilli drain too was a part of the wall but no trace of it remains there now. Tughlaq, however, died before the wall could be completed.“

“The villages enclosed within the walls and those in its peripheries continued to exist for centuries producing all that they needed to survive or buying what they did not, from the weekly markets, held on fixed days of the week near each village. These markets were run by small traveling salesmen who set up shop at a new location each day of the week, coming back to each location once a week. Each traveling merchant catered to a fixed set of six or seven villages within a specific part of what were then the environs of Delhi. Much has changed in the wares that the hafta bazaar merchants sell today; the customers have also changed and yet much remains in these markets that need to be preserved,” said Hashmi.


Source: Hindustan Times

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Breaking News: Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse Sends Shockwaves Through Financial World – Is India’s Banking System Next to Crumble?



Image Source:

Are Indian Banks Ready to Face the Heat of Rising Interest Rates?

As Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) faces the heat of collapsing amidst rising domestic interest rates, Indian banks are left wondering if they are next in line. With the Indian economy still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the prospect of rising interest rates could lead to a devastating blow to the country’s banking sector. Will Indian banks be able to weather the storm or will they collapse like SVB?

Indian banks have already faced a tumultuous few years with multiple frauds and defaults taking place, leaving many questioning their resilience. With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) indicating that it may hike interest rates in the near future, the pressure on Indian banks is set to increase. The question remains – are Indian banks prepared to face the heat of rising interest rates or will they buckle under the pressure? Only time will tell.

Continue Reading


Delhi: Businesses can now remain open 24×7, over 300 applications cleared by L-G



Photo by Rehan Fazal on Unsplash

From restaurants to transport services and BPOs to online delivery services, all those who apply for exemptions will be allowed to operate 24×7 in Delhi starting next week, with Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena approving the proposal to exempt 314 such places to operate all day long, some of them pending since 2016, officials said.

“The L-G has directed that notification to this effect be issued within seven days. The decision of providing exemption under Sections 14, 15 & 16 of the Delhi Shops & Establishment Act, 1954, is expected to boost employment generation and promote a positive and favorable business environment that is a prerequisite for economic growth. The decision will also provide a fillip to the much desired ‘nightlife’ in the city,” said an official.

Source: IndianExpress

Continue Reading


Swiggy Instamart figures, Mumbaikars ordered 570 times more condoms in the last one year



Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year.

These days people are doing online shopping fiercely in the country. Through Grocery Service Platforms, the goods of need are easily reaching people’s homes. From vegetables to medicines, just a few clicks on the smartphone are reaching people’s doorsteps. According to a survey, Swiggy Instamart has provided service to more than 9 million users between June 2021 and June 2022. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers.

Healthcare products orders

Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. According to a survey, Mumbaikars have ordered 570 times more condoms in the last 12 months. At the same time, in 2021, Instamart received orders for about two million sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons. Apart from this, a lot of orders have also been received for grocery items.

56 lakh packets of noodles ordered

According to the survey, between April and June last year, there was a 42 percent increase in the demand for ice cream in these metro cities. It was also learned that most of the orders were placed after 10 pm. In metro cities, people have ordered 5.6 million packets of instant noodles. In Hyderabad, users ordered around 27,000 bottles of fresh juice during the summer months.

60 lakh eggs ordered

The demand for eggs has increased manifold in the last two years. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year. According to the report, customers from Bangalore and Hyderabad ordered the maximum number of eggs for breakfast. At the same time, people of Mumbai, Jaipur, and Coimbatore have ordered the maximum number of eggs online at the time of dinner.

Demand for dairy products

There has been a huge jump in orders for both tea and coffee. According to the report, there has been an increase of 2,000 percent in its demand. At the same time, 3 crore orders of milk have come for milk. People from Bangalore and Mumbai have placed more orders in the morning. Regular milk, full cream milk and toned milk are the most ordered dairy products.

Ordering fruits and vegetables

Orders for 62,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables have been received in the last year. With 12,000 orders, Bengaluru tops the list of organic product buyers. At the same time, Hyderabad and Bangalore together have ordered more than 290 tonnes of green chilies in 12 months. Over 2 lakh orders have been received for bathroom cleaners, scrub pads, drain cleaners, and more in the last year.

Source: Aajtak

Continue Reading


Enter your email address to get latest updates



Copyright © 2018 - 2022 Delhi Wire.