Chandigarh, May 3 (IANS) This is one thing that Punjabis don't mind wearing on their sleeves - 'Punjabiat'. Even the younger generation of Punjabis, be it in India or abroad, are quite inclined to do so.
With the demand for traditional Punjabi things, which are packaged in tune with the times and latest demand, increasingly in the last few years, stores dealing with traditional items and even catchy Punjabi one-liners are creating business out of the demand.
In a leading mall in Chandigarh, where top brands vie with each other for maximum footfalls and selling trendy and latest stuff, a new store has taken up the challenge of offering the vibrant tradition and culture rooted in Punjab.
From the signboard at the entrance, which proudly proclaims 'Theka Khushiyaan Da' (Vend of happiness), the store, 'Urban Theka', is an amalgamation of Punjab's colourful, humorous and vibrant life.
This 'mini Punjab' guarantees you a true and raw taste of Punjab. Located on the second floor in Elante Mall, this store can be spotted from a distance, thanks to its bright ambience, handmade figurines and 'phulkaris'.
"Our opening coincided with Baisakhi -- Punjab's colourful festival. The happiness surrounding Baisakhi goes well with the theme of 'Urban Theka'," I. P. Singh, an entrepreneur, who along with his wife, Sunny Thakral, has painstakingly put together the concept, told IANS.
The husband-wife duo say that the "idea is to merge Punjab's age- old rural culture with its modernity".
The trend was started over a decade ago by popular brand '1469' which cashed on the demand for 'anything Punjabi'. Its 'Pure Punjabi' brand of T-shirts have been a runaway hit among youth and even the older ones.
The 'Urban Theka' store reminds one of the Punjabi folklore and traditions with ladies weaving and embroidering dupattas in phulkaris, men and women doing the 'bhangra' and men with 'dhols', 'chimtas' and 'sapps' (traditional musical instruments).
"You get a feel of rural Punjab. One can see beautifully chiselled figurines of Punjabi women churning butter using 'madhaani' (traditional butter-making equipment), women using the 'charkha' and the like.
The store also takes you to the times of 'Bhai Kanhaiya', a Sikh sevadar who served water to the Mughal enemy forces injured in the war against the Sikh forces. Punjab's history is highlighted through figurines and busts of personalities like 'Mai Bhago', 'Banda Bahadur', a life size statue of 'Maharaja Ranjit Singh' and many more," Singh said.
Other items in the store like 'bantey' (marbles), 'gulli danda' and 'gulail' are sure to take you down memory lane and revive childhood memories.
To catch the fancy of the youth, the store sells funky T-shirts with quirky text like "Dheet (stubborn) by Nature" and "Installing muscles - Bass Vekhi chall". The price ranges from Rs.500 to Rs.1,500.
The outlet has been curated with accessories that incorporate a good, humorous style, so typical of Punjab, which makes it a "must own".
Miniature trucks have an authentic look with mis-spelt one-liners like 'Use Diaper at Night' imitating the ones to be spotted on the highways. 'Drink Responsibly - Dullann na Deyo' (Don't let it spill).
Pre-stitched parnas and turbans make it one of the only shops to be selling turbans in malls. Also, phulkari dupattas, artistically embroidered by women in the villages of Patiala, are displayed. The store directly deals with the craftsmen embroidering phulkaris and designing juttis, eliminating the middlemen.
"Urban Theka is not only displaying the culture of Punjab in a unique way but is also helping in reviving the diminishing art and craft in Punjab. It is quite a refreshing store," Anuradha Kumar, a shopper who happened to cross the store and got attracted to have a "look in".
The statement outside the trial room says 'Try Maar Lai'. A car sticker 'Caution - Peg Lagga' for the back-screen. Coasters are no less: 'Aao Bhaino Chugli Kariye' (Come sisters, let's gossip).
The brand '1469' has been the pioneer in promoting traditional items, especially clothes and accessories, to the youth in a big way through its stores and online sales.
In Chandigarh's Sector 17, the '1469' store attracts many customers who want to wear their 'Punjabiat' on their sleeve, literally!
The store and some other shops like this sell traditional ware in Punjab and Haryana.
While these stores have been around for nearly a decade, earlier it was the Punjab government-run 'Phulkari' stores which sold traditional items - from Punjabi juttis to phulkari duppattas and suits.
With bright, colourful items being sold, there's never a dull moment in 'Urban Theka', '1469', 'Phulkari' or other places with traditional stuff for sure.
(Aastha Ahuja can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)