Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekly market in Tamil town

The weekly market at Theni takes place every Sunday. Theni is a small town in Tamil Nadu. The concept of a weekly market has existed since a long time in India. In some places, it is held in a village which acts as the focal point for several villages in a region. Sometimes, it is at an important road junction or point where important roads meet, where the weekly market spreads itself on all sides of these roads, with one part being a chilli bazaar, another one a livestock selling yard and another a market selling farm implements with the vegetable market offering a good price on everything from retail to wholesale wares.

The shelters for the weekly market are temporary comprising of plastic sheets for roofing to corrugated metal and bamboo matting. In Theni, unlike in most other places, the shelters are in canvas fabric that has been beautifully stitched at the edges.

Just as vernacular houses in villages and small towns in India are a record of the indigenous building skills, the bazaars within our many small towns also reflect the ingenuity of the artisan who continues to work with his hands and to use natural materials in a cost-effective way. It is important to identify the artisans who make the tents for the weekly market.

Local skills in making these tents can be tapped also for other uses such as tourism camp sites so that there are more opportunities for these artisans to practice their skill and to hone it further for contemporary use.

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