A ‘ground nut’ fair? Sounds strange for many but I am sure not for those of you who are from or familiar with Bengaluru. For the uninitiated, the groundnut fair is an annual event that happens on the last Monday of the Karthika month of the Hindu calendar in the vicinity of the Bull temple that is located in Basavanagudi.
In the heart of South Bengaluru, the busy Bull temple road adorns a festive look with the footpaths and part of the road on both sides covered with mounds of freshly harvested groundnut and scores of hawkers selling all sorts of trinkets and knick knacks for about a week. Puffed rice and a plethora of colorful snacks are also found in abundance. The road is teeming with people, bustling with activity and a riot of colors greet you from a distance.
In the yesteryears, Basavanagudi was surrounded by villages like Dasarahalli, Mavalli etc where groundnut was grown. Legend has it that on every full moon day a bull would attack the groundnut fields and damage the crop. The farmers then offered prayers to the big bull or Basava (Nandi) to stop this and pledged to offer their first crop every year to the Lord.
Over the years, this tradition has metamorphosed into a mega event with umpteen farmers from neighboring states coming here to sell their produce. With sellers from as far as Dharmapuri, Kolar and Andhra Pradesh coming in, groundnut lovers have a field time shopping for various varieties that are priced anywhere from Rs 25 to Rs 40 a litre. There is lots on offer apart from groundnut.
The fair earlier would consist of the “Chikka Parshe” or small fair held on Sunday and the “Dodda Parshe” or big fair on Monday but over the years the affair lasts longer with vendors coming in few days before and vacating almost a week later. On speaking to some of them, I realized it was not a very rosy picture from their perspective. With loads of vendors coming in and that much more supply to exhaust, most of them were pensive as they had spent a lot on transportation and were not sure of selling all their produce. They said that they would ensure that they finish their stock which meant even selling it at lower prices before moving back home.
However, for citizens of the city it is one of the few events that help us keep in touch with traditions of the past, a place where toys and tools of the yore can be seen and snacks of the good old days can be savored. It transports you to the days of the past and makes you nostalgic while the city itself is transforming from the garden city to the IT hub of the country.