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Delhi – Tinsel Town

If you wander around Chandni Chowk, particularly Kinari Bazaar, you will see delicate nimble-fingered embroiders at work. It is an old art: embroidering with gold and silver threads goes back to Mughal times. This craft is still practiced in Delhi. It is amazing how skillfully these workers produce on plain cloth exquisite floral and geometrical designs.

The fascinating craft of embroidery has its origins in by-gone days. Its existence in the Mohenjodaro period has been proved with the discovery of bronze needles at the excavation site. Through the succeeding years till today this craft appears on garments and decorative pieces – clothes, upholstery, table linen, cushions, bed-covers etc.

A variety of embroidered goods can be bought at Kinari Bazaar where you can also see the craft in progress in the by-lanes of the speciality street.

Kinari Bazar is also the centre for shopping for the wedding ceremony. It is full of gold lame, groom’s turbans, currency-note garlands and huge rosettes. The shops carry large stocks as they sell to wholesalers and to the p assign retail trade. Brides and their families come here to by the wedding finery and add to it as much general sparkle as parental pockets permit. In October the whole street is magical as the shops stock Ramlila bows and arrows, extra heads for Ravana and enough cardboard swords for hundreds of school armies. You can find all the embroidered pagdis (turbans), plumes and tinsel a man needs for his wedding day. At the junction, the glittering shops sell gold threaded saris for the bride.

The dying art of extremely skilled and delicate white embroidery on fine white muslin is still practiced by women and children in their mud-floor homes. Some may be seen at work on the outskirts of Chandni Chowk and in the densely populated bazaars. Merchants supply the cloth; men cut, make up the article and block print the design; women and children work it; the merchant has it washed and ironed and sells it. The spider’s-web fine work, favoured by the Nawabs who attracted master craftsmen, can be bought as saris, clothes or table linen. Alternatively, you can choose a design in the shop, decide what to make and where to work the embroidery – wide borders or dotted flowers, depending on preference. One marvels at the exquisite products created by these workers with their simple tools: sharp needles, brilliantly coloured skeins and assorted materials.

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