The Princely state of Patiala is known for its handicrafts, juttis and parandies. And now the phulkari embroidered suits, stitched in quintessential Patialvi style is fast catching up in in popularity in India and among the Non Resident Indian Punjabis.
Carried out traditionally by women in the rural areas of Punjab, the intricacy and range of design and detail that Phulkari offers invites large number of craft lovers to Patiala.
A big hit with the NRIs, phulkari is fast catching up with the foreigners as well, who do not forget to take one during their visit back home.
It is not for nothing, that connoisseurs, of this exquisite beautiful handicraft have described Patiala a paradise for the choicest hand-embroidered Phulkari suits.
“These are delightful. People like it. The traditional Indian clothes are not easily available and are costly. I have brought some for myself and other for my daughter and friends,” said Kamlesh, a NRI from Canada.
Thanks to the rise in demand - traditional embroidery has now gone hi-tech.
Many export houses and boutiques now use computer designs and colours to stitch a machine pattern on the suits.
The long tedious work is now complete in hours. The exporters claim that mechanical embroidery has long life and is convenient to look after then the hand embroidered phulkari.
Gradually over a period of time, improvisation and innovation have crept into the traditional craft. The bright colours are being replaced by subdued strains.
The machine-embroidered suits are cost effective compared to the hand embroidered ones, which are expensive.
And needless to say, this growing market has customers for all kind of designs and colours.
“The latest trend of Phulkari designs by machines is robust. In this age of machines, one can wash these machine-embroidered clothes in a washing machine, whereas, one can only hand-wash or dry-clean the hand made phulkari. People these days prefer machine made phulkaris and the rising demand of phulkari suits can not be outdone by the hand-embroidery ones. Also the machine embroidered phulkaris have a better finish than the hand-made ones,” said Jagmohan Singh from Wah Wears Boutique, Patiala.
For those, who prefer wearing traditional Punjabi dress the traditional way, a visit to the ‘Darjiya Wali Gali’ in old Patiala is a must. Here tailors for generations have specialised in Patialashahi Salwar and Kameej, and many NRIs who buy embroidered suits from Patiala prefer the masters to do the stitching.
Also the good thing about phulkari is that it is being recognized internationally when it is on the verge of extinction.
“This is handicraft. As of now the number of handicraft artisans were decreasing, and its demand was growing. Thanks to the media, Punjabi culture has been on a high and even the demand for Punjabi dresses as shown in films has sky rocketed,” said Gurpreet Singh, a phulkari suit exporter, adding that generally phulkari work on suits, dupattas, Bagha and wall-hangings are preferred.
In the latest market trends, Punjab’s hand-embroidery clothes, with its colours and designs are becoming immensely popular internationally. From the village, to the local market, the embroidery is becoming an expensive fashion statement.
Today’s fashion can be a major player in saving Punjab’s dying art.