Bangles Shopping in RajkotThe past has an odd way of catching up with you. After my education in Rajkot Christ College I had moved to Mumbai for work and since then was out of touch with Rajkot. Cupid intervened as I fell in love with Amar my Gujarati colleague, friend and confidante. Amar hailed from Ahmadabad and the day he proposed he fished out a gorgeous ivory bangle from his pocket calling it the Saptapadi; the bangle no Gujarati bride can afford to miss. Traditionally the Saptabadi is gifted to the bride from her family but since I am a maharashtrian (we have different customs) I was thrilled to get such a significant token of Gujarati tradition from him. We decided with the mutual consent of both families that our wedding will be part Maharashtrian and part Gujarati.
This was when I decided to revisit Rajkot; the land of my alma mater and the proud owner of one of India’s finest bangle market; Bangdi Bazaar. Bangadi Bazaar is one of the oldest markets in Lohana Para of Rajkot and is famous for bangles of every color and material. Silver Imitation jewelry, footwear, ghaghra-choli and footwear are the other specialties of this bazaar.
Different Bangles of Bangadi BazaarAccording to traditional Hindu lore the honeymoon of a bride lasts till the last bangle on her wrist remains unbroken. Being a Maharashtrian I couldn’t imagine married life without the pleasant tinkle of green glass bangles. This is precisely why my first agenda in Bangadi Bazaar was shopping for glass bangles. The market overflows with glass bangles of different textures and colors and my walk through the tiny alleys felt like I was exploring small fragments of the rainbow.
What I was searching for was split design green bangles made of less brittle glass which wouldn’t break easily. I had gone along with one of my friends who kept on pushing all the bangles she thought to be appropriate on my wrist all the while making suggestive gestures and remarks about my impending marriage. Though most of our conversation was in English the intelligent shopkeeper somehow inferred that I was a would-be bride. He immediately began to smile ingratiatingly and whispered to his helpers to bring out more bangle boxes.
Immediately I was assuaged with red bangles, green bangles, purple bangles, and bangles with sequins, bangles with metal work, bangles with gilded edges and a hundred other varieties of bangles. I saw the set of 52 bangles of ivory called Haathi Dant ki Choori which are extremely popular amongst Marwari’s. I also saw the Punjabi Chooda comprising of red and white bangles adorned with tiny sequins on sale in Bangdi Bazaar. The typical Punjabi bride is supposed to wear these bangles for one full year to display her newly married status.
Lots of bangles with threadwork embellished with little beads, bells and sequins were on sale in Bangdi Bazaar. These reelected the changing sensibilities of the once traditional market. I picked up at least half a dozen sets of such bangles as they would look great paired with the indo western outfits I usually wear.
Another variety I stocked up on amidst the knowing glances and cheerful jibes that followed me around everywhere (by this time everybody in Bangdi Bazaar knew that I was about to get married) was plastic angles. Though these are distinctly nontraditional yet they are quite convenient being super affordable and almost unbreakable. Their glass like sheen and rich silver and jeweled embellishments made them a perfect accessory for suits I had picked up for my wedding trousseau.
I also saw many shops selling faux pearl and sequin embellished lac bangles which looked quite tempting. I skipped those knowing how brittle lac can be. The bangle seller was quite friendly and supportive and insisted on me picking only those bangles which would last long thus prolonging the honeymoon phase of my marriage.
Metal bangles of amazing variety in white metal, black metal, golden and bronze sheen abounded in Bangdi bazaar. Some of them were plain, some had designs inscribed on them while still others had delicate chains attached to them. I brought some amazing white metal bangles with quotes in Gujarati inscribed on them.
Best Shops in Bangdi BazaarBangdi Bazaar is a cornucopia of small alleys, narrow by lanes and hundreds of tiny shops which are virtually indistinguishable from each other. It’s very difficult to exactly specify the best bangles shops in the area but here but here is a short synopsis of the main shops you can visit. Komal Handicraft in Main Road Bangdi Bazaar is excellent for glass bangles of every color and price range. This shop also stocks excellent neck pieces and Bandhni Dupattas which you can purchase at a very reasonable rate. Vasant Kangan Stores is good for white and yellow metal kangans. There are beautiful pieces available that are enameled with motifs like peacocks, lotuses and fish heads. Sreenath Bangles has excellent collection of glass and plastic bangles at super cheap rates. There is an awesome collection of designer bindis available in this store too.
Mahavir Novelty Store stocks everything from Punjabi Choor to Gujarati Saptapadi to Bengali Shankha Pola. This is where I brought the most beautiful white-red-golden choor with delicate silver and golden engravings amidst the excited suggestions and jokes cracked by the sales girls in the shop.
I had carried along two empty bags with me to Bangdi Bazaar and by the time I returned blushing and sweating from the Bazaar, the bags were full. The Bangle Bazaar of Rajkot had charmed me with its mind blowing spread of bangles but what charmed my heart was the warm and friendly behavior of the shopkeepers and the sales girls and even the customers who wandered by passing knowing smiles and offering practical suggestions. An old lady gave me a free cone of Mehendi while another dashing young shopkeeper offered to arrange the delicate glass bangles in travel safe pouches for me. Another one even offered me ladoos from the nearby Jairam Sweet Mart. The bangles of Bangdi Bazaar will sparkle in my heart forever.