With the biggest festival of Diwali upon us, it is time for the annual melas and markets. With the cloud of the pandemic beyond, this year, the celebration would be grander, and the countdown has already begun.
Popularly called the 'Blind School Diwali Mela', the Blind Relief Association’s Diwali Bazaar is one of Delhi's oldest and most sought-after bazaars. Except for the interruption caused by COVID in 2020, the Association’s Diwali Bazaar has been organised as an annual event for 42 years now since 1980. This year, the Bazaar is a week-long event to be held from 15-21 October 2022 from 10:30 am - 08:00 pm in the Association's premises on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, close to the Oberoi Hotel in New Delhi.
The Blind Relief Association’s Products
The Diwali Bazaar started in 1980 as a small event to showcase the products made by the visually impaired trainees and workers of the Association. The Bazaar has progressively grown over the years into one of the biggest festive shopping destinations in Delhi. Presently, the Bazaar houses more than 230 stalls with vendors from across the country. Yet, the highlight remains to be the Blind Relief Association’s colourful candles and diyas, the primary objective with which the Bazaar was initiated about four decades ago.
Apart from the range of eighty varieties of candles and diyas, a new addition is the scented candles made with soy wax, available in 4 fragrances – lavender, lime orange, Oudh twist, and vanilla. A diverse collection of paper products made by the trainees and staff comprise bags, envelopes, gift tags, notebooks, cards, papier-mache plates, cups, planters, and lampshades. For many visitors, the cloth products stitched by the trainees are often surprising. To its existing array, this year has new additions such as organisers, ring bags, laptop bags of two types - quilting and zipper, sling bags, shoe bags, palazzo pants and dining sets (1 runner, 6 coasters, 6 napkins, and 6 table mats).
Moreover, efforts are made to reduce the usage of plastic, and therefore most of the Association’s products have been packaged in old Braille papers and clothes.
The other stalls stock a sweeping assortment of dazzling designer wear, eye-catching footwear, coveted jewellery, fancy handbags, elegant home décor, traditional crafts, gift items, toys for kids, gardening materials, in-demand herbal products, mouth-watering ready-to-eat and packaged food etc. Besides the 230 stalls, the Bazaar also hosts NGOs at no charge to exhibit and sell products made by differently-abled persons or artisans from underprivileged backgrounds.
Relaxation Massage & Fashion Show (By the Visually Impaired Trainees) The Bazaar provides a grand exposure to the visually impaired masseurs trained at the Association to demonstrate their skills. Tired visitors can enjoy soothing head, shoulder and foot massages at a reasonable cost.
A special attraction of this year’s Bazaar would be a Fashion Show by the female trainees (undergoing Multi-Skill Training) on three days - 16th, 18th and 20th October from 5 - 6 pm.
The Diwali Bazaar organised by the Blind Relief Association is an event for a noble cause. Through this, the association showcases and spreads awareness about the potential and capabilities of the visually impaired and advocate for a non-discriminatory inclusive society where every individual is equally valued and respected. The revenue generated from the Diwali Bazar is used to fund the Association's diverse services for the visually impaired.
The Blind Relief Association is a non-governmental organisation based in Delhi that runs Jormal Periwal Memorial (J.P.M.) Senior Secondary School for the Blind, a residential boys school from Nursery to Class XII; Durgabai Deshmukh College of Special Education (Visual Impairment), a teachers’ training college; computer training centre, and a vocational training centre; a large hostel for its students and trainees; as well as other services like Braille production, audiobooks recording, orientation and mobility training, placement, health care and so on.
2022 marks 78 years of the Association’s existence and its significant contribution to empowering visually impaired people through education and skill training. The Association was also awarded the National Award for the Best Institution Working for the Cause of Persons with Disabilities from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India in 2012.