For over 40 years, a group of dedicated samaritans have been gathering on the first Saturday of December to promote their respective causes. This year’s edition of the United Charities Bazaar aims to continue this tradition, adding colour and festivity to the Yuletide season.

Organised by proVISION India, a city-based NGO, the bazaar is a fund-raising event in which charities from across the country set up stalls selling a variety of items from trinkets to treats. “There are simply no restrictions on the items on sale at the bazaar — from home-made cakes and wines to linen and Christmas décor, the variety is mind-boggling”, said Stephen Dass, organiser of this year’s sale. “There was even a puppy adoption stall last year.”

However, one restriction does apply — only charitable organisations, NGOs and self-help groups are allowed to set up stalls. A myriad of causes, from orphanages to care centres for mentally challenged children, create awareness and raise funds at the event.

Mr. Dass says the Charities Bazaar began in the 1970s, courtesy International Women’s Group (IWG), who were into social service. “The initiative began in Bowring Club and was called Bowring Sale. They were also holding their annual bazaar on a ground near what is now Manipal Centre. We took over holding the bazaar in 2007. It has been held every year except 2008”, he said.

In recent years, the event has become a port-of-call for many of the city’s celebrities, who visit the sale to browse through the plethora of novelties and to support their charities of choice. The bazaar delivers a dual satisfaction to its visitors — the sheer variety of the products available is coupled with the fulfilment of giving back to the community.

The event saw the participation of over 5,000 people in the last edition. The enormous participation has created a problem of plenty for the organisers, as Dass finds his small team unable to cope with the huge crowd. He has been busy urging young people in the city to volunteer both for the event itself and for the charities that participate in it.

As is tradition, the United Charities Bazaar will open its doors to visitors on December 7 at Corporation Play Grounds, opposite St. Charles School in Lingarajpuram.

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