Muharram brings with it increased business for tombstone carvers. As a number of people hasten to have the graves of their loved ones paved, the craftsmen in Gawalmandi, Chak Madad Khan near Westridge and other areas are busier than any other time of the year. Muhammad Shafqat, who has been carving tombstones for the past 15 years, is adept at different kinds of writings and inscriptions on the grave. He said the demand of his work in Muharram increases up to five times than usual. An engraver prepares about four to give pieces in a day. “We get six to 10 rupees for every word that we carve,” Shafqat said.
Prior to the engraving, a scribe writes with pen on a piece of marble. A writer earns up to Rs20 to 30 for one piece, he said. Most people prefer having Quranic verses and poetry inscribed on gravestones to remember their departed relatives, he added.
A shop owner at Chak Madad Khan said in Muharram, they are preoccupied with the orders related to grave cementation. The stones commonly used are granite, silver white, Indian green, super white, sunny grey, Ziarat whiter, flower, zebra, black jet, onyx, silky and golden marble. Silver white, sunny grey and super white are in demand, as they are cheaper, harder and whiter and thus most suitable for the graves, he said.
He added most of the marbles are brought from Swat, Buner in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Ziarat in Balochistan and Karachi. The light-coloured stones are usually brought from K-P but the recent violence in the province has affected the business by reducing the supply.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2011.