The popularity of the Sunday santhe will never be on the wane

A walk through the Sunday market (santhe) on Bazar Road in Yelahanka awakens all one's senses. Rows upon rows of colourful vegetables, fruits, aromatic spices and condiments; shouts of street vendors advertising their ware and haggling with customers, are all part of the lure.

The santhe, which has been an integral part of the community for years, starts at the crack of dawn. This kilometre-long stretch comes alive with enthusiastic vendors selling the freshest of produce to eager customers. The vendors, who hail from nearby villages, come in their laden vans and set up temporary shops. The flow of customers continue right up to 8 p.m. when the vendors return to their villages.

Mananjinappa, a fruit vendor, who has been coming to the market for 10 years, says: “Since no place is allotted for a seller, I pay Rs. 70 to the adjacent shop owners so I can be assured of a good spot. As the day progresses, I get my returns.”

The luckier ones have settled down at the market and sell their produce from the comfort of their doorstep. “We built our house at the market so that it would be convenient for us. During the santhe, we can sell our produce from our house. For the rest of the week, we can go to the farmer's market,” says Muniratnama, a vegetable vendor.

Vendors who have been regulars at the market say that development has barely touched the place. “The roads have been tarred and we have even been made to move from Santhe Circle to Bazar Road. But our customers, and the feel of the santhe have stayed constant,” says Munikrishna, a tomato vendor, who has been coming here for 15 years now. Weekly customer Vipin Kumar says: “Since we work the whole week, it is convenient to buy vegetables here on Sunday.” While Bhama Moorthy, a retired schoolteacher, says: “This produce comes straight from the farm. Their shelf life is longer and they are cheaper than produce in supermarkets.”

For the vendors and customers who have been coming to the santhe over the years, more than a weekly ritual it is the building of bonds that draws them here.