The Rajasthani community in the old city is proof that cultural diversity isn’t the preserve of new Bangalore. The community has found ways of keeping its culture and tradition alive, says Sunil Jain, owner of Jain Jewellers on Nagarthpet Main Road.
If you happen to think that the old city is not as cosmopolitan as other parts of Bangalore, a walk through the petes should dispel that notion. But of the many communities that you’ll encounter in the area, there’s one you can’t miss: a few steps down Nagarthpet Main Road, you can see several Marwari women in traditional saris going about their daily shopping and Marwari shopkeepers selling everything from sweets to jewellery. Here, it’s hard to remember that you’re near K.R. Market, and not in Rajasthan. “My family has been staying here for 25 years now; many people from our community live around the area. Even though we are away from Rajasthan, I feel completely at home,” says 17-year-old Harshita Khemka from Cottonpet.
The community has found ways of keeping its culture and tradition alive, says Sunil Jain, owner of Jain Jewellers on Nagarthpet Main Road. “Our people have been staying in areas around Chickpet, Cottonpet and Akkipet for quite some time now. Some in the younger generation haven’t even been to Rajasthan. Even so, they’ve learnt our culture and languages from their elders…the children also learn to love our food,” he says, adding, “We have many restaurants and sweet shops that serve Rajasthani dal bati nearby but the most popular one would be the Jain Dharamshala in Chickpet.”
Bindya Gupta, who owns one such sweet shop called Mahaveer Sweets, says the community has settled down well in the 20 years that she has lived here.
“Most of my customers are from my community; we had to leave Rajasthan to find work, and now we have made Bangalore home. We even have several music stores and eateries nearby that cater to Marwaris,” she says.
Chanaram, the proprietor of a Rajasthani music shop just around the corner, says, “I started off selling only Rajasthani music, but nowadays I sell Hindi and Kannada CDs as well. I get most of these CDs from Rajasthan. Business started suffering once people bought pen drives to store their music on, but I still have faithful customers in the community.”
Sachin, who runs a newspaper store near the Hanuman temple, says: “The newspapers that sell the most in this area are Dainik Bhaskar and Rajasthan Patrika. I sell anywhere between 75 to 100 copies of Rajasthan Patrika every day here. I might as well not come to work if I don’t bring those papers with me.”
Sania Agarwal, a shop assistant in a garment store, lights up when asked about Rajasthani clothes. “While our bread and butter might be cotton sarees, we do occasionally sell traditional Marwari lehengas and sarees for weddings. We bring some of our lehengas all the way from Jodhpur, and you can tell by the mirror work that it is 100 per cent Rajasthani. I have been saving up for one of these myself,” she says.