A sleepy village in Tiruvallur district comes to life every Tuesday, thanks to a market that helps farm hands earn some cash by selling vegetables grown in nearby fields or brought from outside.
On Tuesdays, agricultural work in Chinnambedu village, popularly known as Siruvapuri, located 35 km from Chennai in Tiruvallur district, is put on hold. The weekly market springs to life along the long winding road leading to the Murugan temple with at least 200 hawkers selling local produce including raw bananas, banana stems, greens, brinjals, saplings and fruits.
According to K. Kapilan, a farmer and local resident, over 10,000 devotees visit the Siruvapuri Murugan temple on Tuesdays and special days like Krithigai.
“Many of our farm hands buy produce from local farmers and sell it at the market. The villagers produce banana, chilly, paddy and pulses,” he said.
Antonyammal, who works as a labourer in the neighbouring fields, said that every Tuesday, she buys vegetables from Arani market.
“I leave the village at 3 a.m. so that I reach here by 6 a.m. and start selling vegetables including brinjal, ladies finger, radish and bitter gourd. I buy vegetables worth Rs. 1,000 and earn a profit of around Rs. 300. On other days, all that I can earn is Rs. 150,” she said.
The market allows people like M. Nagooran, another labourer, to earn that extra rupee. “I don’t mind sitting on the road in the dust because I make extra cash on these days. I don’t earn much working as a farm hand,” he said.
There are those like Nagomi from Palavakkam, who sell puttu arisi — which is cooked red rice, shredded coconuts and sugar. Small packets are priced at Rs. 10.
She walks around the market with her plate rather than sitting at one spot. “If I move around, I can cover more people,” she explains with a grin.
Apart from the hawkers, the market also sees temporary hotels being set up. Nandini Store is ranked as the best by locals and visitors.
Ramesh Babu, who has been running the store, said it takes three days of work for his family to run the hotel on Tuesdays.
“We make idlis and pongal for breakfast, variety rice for lunch and fried items for dinner. Food is available till 10 p.m. On Sundays too, there is a crowd,” he said.