Kashmiri shawl-sellers descending on Delhi with their shawls, pheran and other artworks, and quickly disposing their goods in the market, was a common sight till a few years back.
But if the vendors are to be believed, Delhiites nowadays aren’t that receptive to their wares, especially pheran (a loose cloak worn on the outside).
Sohail Ahmad, 43, who has been coming to Delhi for the last 13 years in winters to sell Kashmiri arts, lamented, “Sale of Kashmiri arts has diminished over the last two years.”
He explained how GST-driven rise in price as well as online sales has made business difficult for them.
“Earlier, there was demand for Kashmiri arts. We used to sell shawls, stoles, pheran during the winter season in Delhi as the demand was high and people were enthusiastic about Kashmiri pheran. But over the last couple of years, our business has been reeling due to online sales as technology has taken over. GST also had a big role to play in the decline of sales [as it led to rise in prices],” said Ahmed.
Another Kashmiri pheriwala (vendor), Shabbir Dar, who hails from Anantnag district in south Kashmir said, “My brother and uncle used to come to Delhi during winters to sell traditional Kashmiri pheran and they used to find good business. But over the past two years, the business wasn’t good, so they did not return this year. I have been coming here for the last couple of years during winters to sell Kashmiri art products. The demand for Kashmiri art products too has gone down as compared to earlier.”
According to Dar, even the fairs and exhibitions haven’t helped.
“I was a part of an exhibition that was held in Chhatarpur earlier this year. People visited and passed by without buying anything. Most of the people had come to hang out in exhibitions. Same goes with the trade fair. My friend had a stall in a trade fair at Pragati Maidan earlier this year, but there were very few buyers. The rest just looked and proceeded without buying,” said Dar.
Manzoor Ahmed, a 55-year-old from Shehr-e-Khas Srinagar, comes to Delhi with his family every winter. He recalls the time how pheran was part of tradition of Kashmiris not just in Kashmir but also in Delhi: “The long loose cloak, which has been a tradition for centuries, has changed its form. We used to wear the pheran to protect ourselves from the extreme cold and keep the Kangri inside it. I still remember how my grandfather in my childhood used to keep me inside his pheran. It is now worn not just to avoid winter.”
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