Wednesday January 17, 2018

Urban Theka- Offering the vibrant tradition and culture rooted in Punjab

The store, ‘Urban Theka’ is an amalgamation of Punjab’s colourful, humorous and vibrant life

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Urban Theka, Chandigarh Source: Youtube
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Chandigarh: 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’.

Related article: Punjab Grill: One stop for all Punjabi food cravings

“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. (IANS)

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10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.