By Umber Khalid and Komal Qayyum
“Shopping is a women thing. They usually enjoy scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death and the ecstasy of the purchase”.
A true example of this saying can be found in one of the most famous and crowded bazaars of Lahore; ‘ANARKALI BAZAAR’. The local market just outside the walled city is named after a beauty of Mughal Emperor Akbar’s Court who was at one time the beloved of Mughal Prince Jahangir and was buried alive for getting involved with the prince. This market is renowned for the number of commodities, including women’s men’s and children apparel, costume jewellery, sandals, books, stationary and other kind of knickknacks it has to offer.
The bazaar is not only visited by women and men but also by the students of the educational institutions located in that vicinity. Punjab University and the King Edward Medical College and National College of Arts are the prominent universities located adjacent to the bazaar.
The time around Eid festival is the busiest time for Anarkali bazaar when the already crowded walkways are packed with shoppers, so much so that it is almost impossible not to bump into people while making your way. This bazaar is divided into two equal halves – First is known as Old Anarkali which is eminent for traditional food items. As Lahore is the famous city with an extremely ri ch food culture, Anarkali is considered one of the best places where people can enjoy a vast variety of food. The second half is, recognised as “New Anarkali” where traditional handicrafts, clothes and gift centre are available. A visit to the Anarkali Bazaar opens the doors for a real feel of Lahore city in all its traditional glory, as citizens gear up for the most festive days though out the year. During the final days of Ramazan leading to Eid, shopping centres often remain crowded throughout the day and close down late at night. Most people prefer to go shopping in the evening, after they have had Iftar at home, as the scorching heat during the day does not permit venturing out into the sun when fasting.
Eid ul Fitar is a religious festival shared by Muslims all over the world, when they indulge into the joys of celebration. In the sub continent, Eid celebrations are considered incomplete without bangles, henna and traditional clothes. When we talk about Anarkali bazaar how can we forget the pretty ornaments the market has to offer; Bangles and Kuhsa shoes. Now a day’s different kind of bangles have been introduced, which represents the different cultures and traditions of different regions in Pakistan. Funky bangles, glitzy bangles, bangles with rings and chains, can be seen everywhere but handmade bangles have won the heart of majority this time around. Not only the ladies but men too were seemed to be as excited about Eid. A large variety of traditional men’s Kurta Shalwars, and western wear are also available with special offers for this event.
Although rampant inflation has affected their buying powers, shopkeepers say that people are still coming in droves to buy stuff for the festival. Anarkali bazaar has many segments each and every part of this bazaar is overcrowded during Eid shopping days. Many shops were offering there accessories on discounted rates. One university student Amna said, “Whenever I buy something from sale I feel so special that I have paid less for something, the lesser it costs the more is a commodity worth to me”.
However women say that the shopkeepers only give concessions on the items which are not worth much and do not benefit the customers as such. Although most of the shops offers sales but still bazaar is frequented by a large number of families arguing to get bargains.
The streets are lined with carts, and shopkeepers who are short of space display their goods outside on the street. Whatever little space remains on the street is fought over between crowds of shoppers, motorcyclists, rickshaws and cars. The area manager of one outlet said that the sales usually multiply during these days, and every person purchases items for Eid, according to their buying power and what is the most suitable for them. They don’t only buy stuff for themselves but also buy gifts for their relatives and loved ones.