Mela Phulkari is the brainchild of Kirandeep Kaur and Harinder Singh, owners of Punjabi revival arts and crafts brand, 1469. Last year I was lucky enough to stumble upon the exhibition at the India Habitat Centre and managed to even spend time with Kirandeep, Harinder and the curator and art historian Dr Alka Pande.
The mela (festival) is an attempt to bring together the arts and crafts of Punjab to showcase the vast and impressive handicrafts of the region. Some of these crafts are dying out now due to lack of awareness, investment and changes in people’s tastes. Through their brand of 1469 and Mela Phulkari, Kirandeep and Harinder are trying to rejuvenate and inject new life into these arts and crafts of Punjab.
The Mela derives its name from phulkari which is essentially made up of two words phul = flower and kari = craft and is piece of embroidered cloth. The embroidered floral work was done with floss silk on cotton fabric and over time this type of work quintessentially became associated with Punjabi craftsmanship. Interestingly the phulkaris were traditionally woven by women especially for special occasions such as weddings. Remaining in the domestic space they were never intended for commercial sale as these were individual pieces put together for personal use only. The weaving of phulkari is therefore akin to weaving dreams and desires that they had rather than just a regular chunri (head scarf) or shawl. It brings together bright, jubilant colours to represent joyous occasions. Devoid of any religious subject, the phulkari is a simple design yet creative piece of design work. Motifs represented everyday life but the colours and style of embroidery varied across the region and depending on the occasion. The mela thus serves as a wonderful syncretic tradition of the Punjab.
Read more about Phulkari: http://indianheritage.biz/Phulkari.html
Apart from the phulkari, the mela brings together lots other artefacts from Punjab and installations. The mela is definitely worth a visit when you are in Delhi. Go exploring at the Mela Phulkari, Open Palm Court, IHC. Exhibition showing from 6th to 13th April 2017. http://www.indiahabitat.org/
Visit the 1469 shops or go online: http://www.1469workshop.com/