What is it with being young and running away from our culture. I remember while growing up I wanted to be anything but a Punjabi, wanted to eat anything but paranthas, ghee and butter would put me off a dish, speaking in Punjabi was so uncool. I wanted to be someone else, someone who is cooler and that someone certainly didn’t wear “Phulkari”. But as I grew up, I started to crave for all the things I was shunning. The culture of Punjab, I started digging deeper in the food and discovered so many gems. I wanted to learn Punjabi and started to speak it bit by bit and I fell in love with “Phulkari”.
Phulkari is a embroidery technique from Punjab which literally means “flower work”. Women would make everyday odhinis (big dupattas) which had these exquisite flowers on them in patterns and then there would be detailed fully embroidered odhinis for special occasions done in the same style which would be called “Baghs” (garden). One of the features that stands out of phulkari is that embroidery is done with use of darn stitch on the wrong side of cotton with coloured silken thread. Over time silk, gorgettes, crepes and other fabrics are getting used but traditionally it was always cotton. Some historians also believe that it is an adapted form of work and came from Iran.
Though the art is very very old, phulkari sarees are a relatively new phenomenon as saree has never been the choice of garment of Punjab. The traditional Punjabi dress is always salwar kurta and odhini. Like all other arts, this one is also slowly dying, machine versions of phulkari taking over the market by storm because of being much cheaper. I wish we could do something to preserve our arts. Every state has some many weaves that are dying.
I bought this one from one of the stalls in Delhi Haat I think, years ago. Wearing it to baishaki dinner with some himachali beads in the neck
And oh yes Aparna Jha did return it

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