As the days begin to shorten and the nights start to cool, a sense of autumn sweeps through Sammamish. With the arrival of chillier months, a string of bazaars, festivals, and fairs pop up in preparation for upcoming festivals.
Among these celebrations is the annual Dussehra and Diwali Bazaar, which takes place on Sept. 18, from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Pine Lake Community Club. This event, hosted by local jewelry business Aabhushan Collections, will be an opportunity for Sammamish residents to explore booths filled with Indian food, traditional fete attire, home décor, and henna.
Prajkta Kathale, 43, is the owner of Aabhushan Collections. She hopes that this bazaar can help to alleviate the stress of festivities for families, while simultaneously bringing together the diverse cultures within Sammamish. By having all the clothes, jewelry, and food grouped together in one location, local residents can reduce the time spent shopping and increase the time spent with their families.
Kathale is excited for this year’s event because it is one of the first bazaars that she has hosted.
“I had previously attended [this bazaar] in partnership with another vendor… But this year, I wanted to have a [bigger] presence in my home, in my community,” Kathale said.
The bazaar is a ‘first’ in another sense – the first where both Dussehra and Diwali will be collectively observed at one event.
In prior years, the bazaar had only celebrated Diwali. However, during the past year, Kathale had noticed that a lot of her customers were stressed over Navratri, a nine-day celebration leading to Dussehra that occurs in late September or early October. For each of these nine days, devotees must wear a different color of clothing, symbolizing a different god or goddess.
The burden of having to shop for nine different outfits caused Kathale to wonder – why not host the bazaar a little earlier, and provide supplies for both holidays?
The grouping of the two events was not profoundly difficult. Dussehra and Diwali are closely intertwined holidays. Dussehra commemorates the defeat of a 10-headed demon by Prince Rama, a human incarnation of the powerful deity Vishnu, while Diwali memorializes the eventual return of Rama to his home in Ayodhya a few days later.
Hence, Dussehra will take place on Oct. 5 and Diwali on Oct. 24. The bazaar itself will be hosted in September, thereby giving customers enough lead time to shop in preparation for the two celebrations.
For this year’s bazaar, Kathale invited a total of 11 vendors. With each of these businesses, she aimed to ensure that they were all locally-based. She wanted to prioritize supporting other companies in her community.
“I have seen that, after [bazaars], I always get so many new customers. So I wanted to try to get local vendors from Sammamish or Issaquah to participate because it helps them too,” Kathale said.
She also kept the event small to reduce competitiveness. By only having 11 vendors, it would give customers the chance to visit all the booths, and businesses the chance to interact with all the clients.
One of the vendors for this year’s bazaar is Embroidery Chronicles, a Sammamish-based Indian apparel store that sells everything from kids’ kurtas to women’s sarees. They are also eager for this opportunity to celebrate their culture.
“This kind of bazaar gives us a great exposure…to [giving] back to the community by [uniting] in diversity and by showcasing the rich culture and heritage of India,” Ananya Sengupta, the owner of the Embroidery Chronicles, said.
With each client, Sengupta also aims to incorporate the cultural significance behind the product, particularly targeting the younger generations. Sengupta strongly believe that understanding one’s roots is critical.
“[The bazaar] is not just about the sales,” Kathale said. “It’s also about relation-building within the community.”