With its proud past, glorious present and a promising future, Amritsar has a dazzling showcase of composite culture and secular heritage. Amritsar is not just bhangra or Giddha, Sarson ka saag and Makki ki Roti, it is an attitude and a way of life, despite the modern winds blowing, the city still enshrines and exudes its essential cultural identity.
There is some uniqueness in the Amritsari products. Be it Parandi, Phulkari, Jutti or the famous Papad Warian – (Dry Papad Snacks). Most of the tourist who comes to Amritsar, want to shop for these amazing things as a Souvenir of their travel to the Holy City. Today we at City On Pedals make sure that our guests would be made familiar to such momento in our Heritage Walking Tour which they can carry along and keep with them as a mark of their remembrance of the visit to the city of Golden Temple.
5 relevant souvenirs of Amritsar
Floral Heritage Of Punjab
Synonymous with Punjab and its culture, Phulkari literally means a floral work where the entire cloth is filled with flowery embroidery. These are basically the simple and sparsely used head scarfs – Odinis, dupatta, and shawls, made for everyday use. Intricately designed and beautifully embroidered at homes in multi-colors, this forms an integral part of a Punjabi girl’s trousseau. The first-ever reference of the word was sited in Punjabi Literature in the 18th century where Waris Shah – a renowned poet, has described the trousseau of Heer and lists various articles of clothing with Phulkari among them.
It is believed that in the past as soon as a girl was born the mothers and grandmothers would start embroidering Phulkaris, which were to be given away at the time of marriage. Depending on the status of the family, the parents would give a dowry of 11 to 101 Baghs – (Another form of Phulkari which is heavily embroidered) and Phulkaris. Initially, this embroidery was done by the women for their own use and use of other family members and was not for sale in the market. Thus, it was purely a domestic art that not only satisfied their inner urge for creation but brought color into day-to-day life. But nowadays this is popular worldwide so much so that you will find Phulkari in a foreign land as well. if you visit on your tour to the inside city of Amritsar, you will find Phulkari everywhere. Every vendor of the old market place sells Phulkari these days. So the best place to shop is the inside area of Katra Jaimal Singh near Heritage Street from where you will get a variety of stuff like Dupattas, Shawls, Suits, Lehengas, etc.
If there is only one Souvenir that you want to carry from Amritsar or Punjab, it has to be Phulkari.
An Embroidered Footwear of the Punjabis
An Urdu word for a shoe with a closed upper attached to a sole, Punjabi Jutti was a part of the royalty of the Kings for 400 years and is traditionally embroidered on leather in real gold or silver threads. One of the unique features of this handcrafted footwear is that it has no left or the right side distinction and can be worn on any foot of choice. Being worn by the men and women of Punjab on any occasion, it is the most comfortable and stylish flat-soled footwear found by them. Its extensive embroidery contains the rich heritage of Punjab.
Hand-crafted with threads or beads, it also has slightly different variations which are known as Khussa or Mojri. People prefer wearing them on traditional occasions like weddings. Along with traditional dresses like sherwani or kurta Pajama, Juttis form the quintessential accessory. Available easily outside Hall Bazaar, one can shop for as many as they want.
It is the bright colored long tasseled extensions braided in the hair by Punjabi Women. It has its own history to foretell. In ancient times, when women did not have many accessories to decorate their hair with, they use to weave multicolored thread together and tie them in their hair with braids in order to beautify them and to make them appear longer. It is believed that the more exuberant and longer it is, the better. Also, regarded as a symbol of Love it is worn by women of all ages in the villages of Punjab. Many Punjabi songs have been made in the praise of a woman who mesmerizes her love by wearing this long and Unique Parandi.
With many innovations, even Parandi has seen a tremendous change from the age-old threads to the modern custom-made Parandis. Different threads are now used in its making like polyester, recycled fibers of different kinds or Nylon to make them last longer without giving much care. Certain embellishments like beads and studs have also been added to give it a more vibrant look. Easily available in the old-city local market, Parandi can be grabbed on our way to the Heritage Walking Tour.
Kara or a Solid Iron or Steel bracelet is worn by all Sikhs. It is one of the famous 5 K’s of Sikhs which is considered sacred and is worn by them at all times. The other four being the Kes – (Long Hair), Kanga – (comb), Kirpan – (Dagger), and Kachehra Saab – (Under-pants), the fifth one being the Kara – the Iron Bracelet. It does make a very spiritual gift for those who connect with the energy of the Gurudwaras. It is also easy to carry souvenirs as gifts, as a bracelet can be worn by most people. It is believed that it protects one from all the negative energies of the world.
Dry Papad Snacks
Specific to the North-Indian state of Punjab, Amritsari papad is made from seasoned dough, usually of urad daal flour, seasoned liberally with salt, black pepper, cumin seeds and sometimes with Garlic. Flours from other sources are also used like chickpeas, rice or potato. The proportions are highly variable, leading to a large variety of taste and pungency. The dough is rolled into wafer-thin discs the size of a small plate, and sun-dried to prepare raw papad. Traditionally rolled out by hands and now done by machines, these dried papads will be kept for several months without refrigeration and are easy to carry at long distances.
Amritsari Vadi (or vadiyaan as plural) is also made similarly from dough prepared from a paste of ground urad dal, with salt, black pepper, red chili, salt, cumin seeds, etc. added to it. The paste is shaped by hand into half-round balls and spread out on sheets for sun-drying.
Like papad, dried vadis can be kept for months. Dried vadis are cracked into bite-sized pieces and added to curries and vegetable dishes. These give the dishes a smoky and piquant taste.
Until recently, the traditional papad and vadiyan makers of Amritsar were concentrated in a famous street known as the Papad Vadiyan Bazaar near the Golden Temple. The Bazaar was suffused with the pungent aroma of the spices used to make papad and vadiyan, and visitors to the bazaar often remembered the smell as an unforgettable experience. After the implementation of the Galiara Project begun in 1988, aimed at beautification of the Golden Temple surroundings, these papad makers were spread out in the surrounding area.
So, which one would you pick on your next tour to Punjab?