Last Saturday, Vivanta by Taj President Hotel in Cuffe Parade housed Puncham Bazaar, a shopping extravaganza with a conscience. Founded in the year 1980, Puncham, a women’s aid organisation, is the brainchild of Rani Poddar, Managing Director of Nathuram Ramnarayan Private Limited. A Lower Parel resident, Poddar was moved to start Puncham years ago by the plight of a little street child. Poddar shares, “I once saw a boy drinking water near a sewage line. It hurt to realise that so many children do not even have access to clean drinking water.” Not one to dawdle, Poddar immediately started working on providing potable water to street dwellers. Over the years, her charity has set up 11 drinking water fountains across Mumbai: outside Taraporewala Aquarium, in Girgaon Chowpatty, outside Inox in Nariman Point, outside the lush Hanging Gardens, and other such places. She is also associated with the Indian Cancer Society and the Association of the Blind.
“The first bazaar I organised was for Mankhurd Children’s Home,” she reminisces. There has been no stopping her since then. Over the years, she has overcome many obstacles to craft Puncham Bazaar, which has grown into a behemoth of sorts today.
The Puncham Bazaar was an event ‘for women by women’. Everything from clothes and furnishings to cutlery and handicrafts were available. “It is a fantastic concept, wherein women promote other women,” says eminent gynaecologist, Dr Nandita Palshetkar, who resides near Haji Ali. Dr Ajeenkya Patil, Chairman of the D Y Patil Group and a Worli resident, echoed similar sentiments. He states, “It is indeed a matter of great satisfaction to see women from all walks of life, from different parts of the country, come together under one roof for Puncham Bazaar. It is a unique, one-of-its-kind exhibition with the best talent on display.”
Of the items on sale, perhaps the most popular were the clutch of brands selling designer Indian wear—Tevar’s shimmering saris, roseate garments from Beetroot, stylish anarkalis from Azuli by Nikki, Nita Shah’s graceful, creamy salwar kameezes, colourful print-scapes by Rachna’s Rack and Avni’s Collection, elegant chikan work by Woven Traditions, among many others. The glittering jewellery and accessory counters were crowded as ladies admired Shilpa Puri’s traditional bridal jewellery. People also visited the stalls set up by Manav Foundation and the Ismaili Helping Society.
Poddar shares, “Puncham Bazaar has received an overwhelming response this year with participation coming in from all over the country. The format is getting bigger and better with each passing year.”