Amritsar, Sep.19 : With winters approaching, the over two centuries old Amritsar Shawl industry is experiencing a boom in the domestic as well as international market.
The industry, which was known for traditional hand-woven and embroidered shawls, has now mechanized its production by installing world class machines.
Though the Kashmiri shawls that are popularly known to have dominated the Indian shawl industry for ages, shawls from Amritsar have also grown to earn a distinct recognition on national and international level.
It is said that Kashmiri migrants established the shawl industry here during 19th century. With political patronage, the industry flourished.
Today, with the introduction of modern machineries and innovative techniques in design and production, the shawl industry is witnessing a golden period'.
Application of intricate designs and patterns has mad the shawls popular in different parts of the world. It is said the quality of water available for dyeing the shawls also give edge to the local shawl industry.
A high in demand items from Amritsar is the stole. Worn by the fashion conscious women in abroad, stoles have a wide market. And, to compete in the international market, people in the Amritsar shawl industry introduced modern machines and have started supplying embroidered stoles and maintained its distinction in the market.
Today, it is generally said a trip to Amristar remains incomplete if you fail to take along the locally prepared hand-embroidered shawl.
Amritsar, which was flourishing shawl market in the pre-partition days, was hit hard during the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971.
But these days are considered the Golden Era' for shawl industry in Amritsar, which is attracting a large number of foreign buyers. Today the city has the reputation of producing quality and trademark shawl.
Pyare Lal Seth, President of the Shawl Club, said: "The Woolmark brand is guarantee in itself for buyer that it is 100 per cent new wool. It's a big thing if customer is satisfied that he is buying pure wool."
The annual exports of shawls from Amritsar and Ludhiana have reached 111 million dollars and the main credit goes to the mechanized shawl units in Punjab.
Amritsar is now focusing attention on Australia, Europe, Japan, the Middle East and the USA market.
Lately, Indian shawls have become an international fashion accessory and this has given an unexpected boost to exports from Punjab. To meet the international standards, the manufacturers have improved the designs, colour and quality of the wool.
Stole is comparatively small in size than a traditional shawl. Jacquard Shawls made of fine viscose fabric are getting more popular than the woolen one.
A large number of foreign buyers from countries like USA, Middle East, Japan, Australia and Europe have placed a number of orders for the Amritsar made Shawls and Stoles. The Industry that was having a sale of 40 to 50 cores few years back has now touch the export of Rs. 500 cores.
Indian shawls are now catching the attention of the younger generation in foreign countries as well.
J. S. Madan, Chairman of the Shawl Club, said: "Globalization has increased our market worldwide. As per my personal assessment and as per the government records, the export of shawls that was of rupees 60 crore (13 million dollars) initially has increased to a level of Rs. 400 crore (88.8 million dollars) after 2002. The worldwide demand for shawls has risen. In domestic market customers are demanding new designs and simple designed shawls are out of fashion giving boost to designer shawls. Designs are being created on computers. Intricately designed shawls of high quality are available in the market."
With the winter season approaching, the shawl industry is looking for a boom in the domestic market.
Even foreigners and non-resident Indians, who visit Amritsar to pay obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) take time out to buy shawls as memento.
It's truly a golden period for the shawl Industry here. By Ravinder Singh RobinANI)