LUCKNOW: A vegetable market is the last place you would think of going to learn or even read Sanskrit but then the Nishatganj vegetable market is trying to be different. In this market, names of all vegetables are written in Sanskrit on tiny placards.
The mundane Aloo or potato is known as 'Alookam' and tomato is 'raktphalam'. Bitter gourd or karela is known as "karvelah' and carrots are 'gunjanakkam' while garlic is 'lashuman'. Onions are known as 'Palanduh' and ginger is 'adrakam'.
Sonu, a vegetable seller, explained this unique experiment and said: "We thought of popularising Sanskrit and though none of us is familiar with the language, we decided to go ahead. We got a local Sanskrit teacher to help us and when we put up the Sanskrit names of all vegetables, the customers were amused."
Slowly the customers are also learning the Sanskrit names of vegetables and some of them even ask for 'allookam' or 'raktphalam'. Some of the local shopkeepers, however, have termed the initiative as a publicity stunt.
"The vegetable sellers themselves cannot understand or read or speak a word of Sanskrit but this is being done to get free publicity. It is not good for the market and we have decided to dissuade the practice which makes a mockery of Sanskrit," said Asharam Agarwal, a general merchant store owner.
He said that the vegetable sellers had removed the placards when they found no takers. The vegetable sellers said that they had to remove the placards because vegetables need a constant sprinkling of water in this heat and the cards would get wet.
Ravindra Sharma a regular buyer at the vegetable market, however, lauded the initiative and said: "It is a great effort to popularise the language which is a part of our history. I have learnt the Sanskrit names of a few vegetables too." The shopkeepers, however, do not insist on customers using Sanskrit to converse.
"We do not know how to speak Sanskrit either and we are also learning the names of various vegetables and fruits right now," said Sonu and added, "We know that 'Haritkani' are leaf vegetables, 'kandmulani' refers o root vegetables, 'shakvat' is a vegetable garden and 'shakras' is vegetable juice.