A Day in the Life of a Tribal Village Market (Haat)

By LEAD Research Team

I am quite sure most of you have seen or know of a village haat or bazaar. Ever wonder what exactly happens out there?
(In case if you are not aware of what a village haat is-  as most interior villages of rural India do not have proper linkage to the market, many Indian villages – especially the ones that are well connected with small cities- host a business center, which is open only once a week in Government owned lands)

This particular haat is hosted in one of the developed villages of Bastar district of Chattisgarh, which is around 30 km away from a small town- Jagdalpur. Localities mentioned that 1000s of visitors  from around 40-50 interior villages within a radius of 40 km visit this haat every week to purchase or sell all types of goods ranging from daily needs items such as vegetables, salt, sugar, spices, rice to clothes, jewelry, toys etc.
Do you know that each place is allotted to a particular enterprise?  A local boy told me to bring a stick and place it on any empty space, and that space would be mine.  This man in the picture below (on the right) mentioned that the place was allotted to his family 40 years ago, when his father first occupied that place. He has a clothing business and comes from a city, which is around 30 km away from the place.
Needless to say, bangles are extremely important for Indian women.  One interesting observation was that women buyers did not wear bangles themselves, but the sellers helped them wear the bangles. Interestingly, once the new bangles were put on a woman’s hand, the seller broke the old bangles.

This particular village haat was also a place for me to understand the tribal enterprises.  I learnt that most of the tribal women gather in the market to trade their products and purchase their food supplies for the week. On an average, they pay around Rs 30 per person for transportation. You can see two tribal women paying the vehicle’s owner (pics below) and their items that they have brought to sell.

And check out the following pictures to understand what tribal women generally bring to sell in such haats ranging from food products, vegetables, home-made alcohol to ornaments made by the tribal.

And lots of cash transactions!


And last but not the least, the presence of a village sethani “landlord’s wife” really made a difference.

In my opinion, a visit to any haat bazaar of any village gives the glimpse of the social and commercial lifestyle of the people living in that community.  So next time, if you see a village haat or bazaar, try to spend some time just observing. It is quite an experience.