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Feriwala in South Indian village, Wikimedia Commons

By Akanksha Sharma

Every person must be familiar with the echoing sound that reaches every home in the residential cities of India. This repetitive sound piercing the streets is the sound of ‘feriwala‘ (the peddler).

These feriwalas do not have fixed location but they wander around carrying a Pushcart or cycle shouting the name of goods they are selling. Each area has its own feriwalas, who sells only one type of good and is usually known to the residents. These small business persons play a crucial role in providing convenience to the customers.

hawker is different from feriwala
A hawker with a fixed location, Wikimedia Commos

To make the customers alert to their presence because they cannot see them from their homes, they call them by crying the product’s name in a catchy tune , for instance, every day around 11pm to 12pm a peddler cycle around our block ‘nariyalpaani‘ (coconut water) or ‘meethe kharbooje‘ ( sweet muskmelon) and changes the pitch his voice in the exact same way each time giving it as if the word is lyric of a song just like a musician does. which compels us to buy it in this summer heat.

Related Article: The lost Kashmiri pandits in India

In television, we see advertisements are accompanied with a catchy jingle having a background upbeat music which remains captured in our memory, this genius technique is used to attract customers. But peddlers have discovered this amazing skill long before advertisements came and they project their voice at different frequencies with a strange but catchy tune that persists in our memory.

female peddler (feriwala)
A girl selling plastic containers for carrying Ganges water, Haridwar, Wikimedia Commons

With the development of shopping malls, supermarkets, and online services , the number of feriwalas has reduced but still in small town and villages you can still find them selling vegetables, fruits, and other essential products.

In 2003, artist Rashmi Kaleka recorded the sound of some of the New Delhi feriwalas’, as a way of preserving their art. Her project ended up lasting several years. “When I ask the pheriwallas to look into the camera, they start performing,” Kaleka said in an interview conducted by . “They know immediately that they are the artist.”

If you listen to her recordings, you’ll find one recording, in which a feriwala shouting ‘palangvaleh‘ selling folding beds , ends the word every time with ‘eh‘ sound every time.

Akanksha Sharma is a student of Journalism in New Delhi. She currently works as an intern in Newsgram. Twitter @meganme456


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