As the Muslim community awaits Eid and prepares for the festivities in full swing, shops selling cards have started a new trend to revive the tradition of exchanging Eid cards with loved ones.
Gone are the days when artists would create handmade Eid cards with intricate calligraphy that had cultural significance dating back several decades. From pictures of Bollywood celebrities to funny Urdu poetry, Eid cards nowadays incorporate a sense of fun and silliness to attract consumers to boost sales.
Junaid Kaleel, an Eid card designer in Lahore’s Urdu Bazaar states, “Creating a card is all about meeting popular demand, people prefer a card which has a photograph of their favourite actor embossed on it.” Kaleel’s family has been selling cards for the past 20 years and has seen the gradual decline of this business due to the advent of the internet.
Despite this slump, Kaleel remains hopeful and wants to continue his family business with customers like Niaz Ahmed, who states, “We purchase Eid cards to celebrate and share love, and they’re something we were given even when we were children.” However, Kaleel reveals that the trends have changed since the mid 90’s. Previously, Eid cards were hand-made but with the transition in technology computerised designs came about.
“Those old calligraphers have disappeared, we don’t even know where they live now,” says Kaleel who assumes that the older lot of designers left the card making profession quite a while ago. “But we try to carry on the tradition somewhat by designing the cards by ourselves on the computer,” he states.
Waseem Rasheed is the owner of Card Point, one of the oldest card shops in Urdu Bazaar, and says that previously a big effort was put into every card which was made using sketch pencils and spray guns. He added that the tradition of Eid cards was started in Lahore many years ago; “There was an apprenticeship system in which young card designers would work under someone who had been doing it for many years,” says Rasheed who has been running his shop for 30 years. “During those days business was thriving.”
But even Card Point has felt the impact of changing trends and Rasheed says that overall business has slowed down in comparison to the past years due to a variety of factors. “The most important factor is the advancement of technology, as now, instead of sending cards, people prefer to send greetings through text messages, emails and social networking websites.” He adds that the affordable rates of phone calls and text message packages have made it easier for people to wish their family and friends, while greeting people through a card can be quite cumbersome and time consuming. One must visit the market, purchase the card, write a message and then post it, which is quite a long process compared to clicking the ‘send’ button on one’s mobile phone.
With the development of computer designs, people are drawn towards cards which have the ‘Bollywood’ factor. This year, the best selling female faces are Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma and Kareena Kapoor, while popular male faces include actors Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan.
“There is a huge interest for Bollywood actors this year as compared to Lollywood actors,” states card seller Aftab Siddiq. He adds that the trends of the Pakistan film industry generally determine how Eid cards are made, and added that a few years ago, many cards were embossed with actor Shaan Shahid’s face, but the most popular card phase was that of Maula Jatt.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.