Monday July 16, 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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Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey

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Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals
Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals, Flickr

For a political party that was taking a serious shot at coming to power in Punjab less than two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have gone wayward.

Despite the electorate in Punjab reposing trust in the party by making it the principal opposition in the first ever assembly polls that it contested in February last year, the party leadership in Punjab and in Delhi have brought it to a new political low with a series of flip-flops and self-goals.

The AAP, which has 20 seats in the 117-member state assembly, relegated the formidable political alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to a humiliating third slot but is fast losing its votebank in the state.

In recent by-elections, be it for Lok Sabha or assembly seats, the AAP candidates have not only fared badly but had to face humiliation by even losing their security deposits.

In the Shahkot assembly seat bypoll last month, the AAP candidate got a mere 1,900 votes.

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey while the Delhi leadership of the party, including AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia, show wariness, indifference and even suspicion about the Punjab leaders.

Senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira is known to shoot off his mouth on every matter. His recent comments justifying the ‘Referendum 2020’ propped up by foreign-based radical elements who are demanding a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, has sparked a new controversy for him and the AAP.

Khaira, a former Congressman, has left the party embarrassed on earlier occasions as well.

Just about two years back, the AAP was riding high on popularity in Punjab and many believed it was all set to form its first full-fledged state government.

That was not to be Kejriwal and his core group of leaders seem to have lost interest in Punjab affairs for now. Kejriwal’s apology to senior Akali Dal leader and former cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia earlier this year, which happened without even consulting the Punjab leadership of the party, led to resignations within the party with the cadres on the ground feeling disappointed.

AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.
AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann, who has had his own string of controversies earlier, and co-president Aman Arora, resigned from their posts after Kejriwal’s sudden apology.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, had openly accused Majithia of patronising the drugs mafia in Punjab. They even called him a “drug lord”.

When Majithia went to court in a defamation case against the AAP leadership, the Delhi leaders chickened out and Kejriwal wrote an apology letter to Majithia.

Offering apologies and doing voluntary service (kar seva) to atone for political sins is nothing new for AAP leaders.

The ‘Youth Manifesto’ of AAP, released before the assembly polls, carried a photograph of ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest and most revered Sikh shrine of Sikh religion, with an image of a broom, the AAP’s party symbol. This led to a religious uproar in Sikh dominated Punjab.

Kejriwal and other leaders washed utensils at the Golden Temple complex to “atone” for the political and religious faus pax.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan compared the same manifesto to religious scriptures like Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. The AAP had to again seek forgiveness for this.

The AAP’s stand on sharing of river waters varies in Delhi and Punjab, leaving the party embarrassed at times.

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017
Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017

The electorate in Punjab, which gave four seats to AAP (out of 13 Lok Sabha seats), has been left disaapointed. Two of the AAP MPs continue to be suspended from the party for the last three years.

Also read: Dogfight in Aam Aadmi Party : The audio clip of Kumar Vishwas reveals the party is no longer for principles but for personal aspirations

If AAP is to revive its position in Punjab, its leadership — in Punjab and in Delhi — would have to take drastic steps to stop the erosion of its base. Otherwise, the party would end up being a one-time wonder. (IANS)