Unfazed by lack of accommodation and braving sun and rain, a group of street vendors from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, weather it out on the streets of Mysore during Dasara every year.
Selling fancy balloons, toys and other items that draw the attention of the tiny tots, the group comprising about 40 people, sleep on the newly-laid pavements adjacent the Chamaraja Circle or take shelter in the decrepit Abid Buildings.
The nomadic group travels from Madhya Pradesh to different parts of the country, selling their wares. It finds Bangalore more profitable and spends a considerable time there every year. But during Navaratri, they head for Mysore.
“We have been visiting Mysore for Dasara since the last 10 years and sell our wares to tourists,” said Anil, one of the vendors. There are about 25 to 30 families, all of whom travel together carrying their own grocery procured at Bhopal before embarking upon their long-distance journey. “We carry the food, cook ourselves and sleep on the pavements,” said a senior member of the group. They reach Mysore ahead of Dasara and spend 10 days, and return only after witnessing the Jamboo Savari. “We seek blessings of Goddess Chamundeshwari and then head back,” according to Phulchand, another vendor. Another vendor, Surjith, claimed that the business was good during Dasara and each vendor earned anything between Rs. 600 and Rs. 800 or even Rs. 1,000 a day.
While the men folk tend to camp in Bangalore selling the wares near railway stations and bus stands, the women and children head back to Bhopal once the schools reopen.