The bustling Medina Market of Muzaffarabad, famous for traditional Kashmiri clothing, is packed with Eid shoppers these days, especially women, as Ramazan draws to an end.
Fauzia, a resident of Mirpur, said the market is the commercial nerve centre of Muzaffarabad and is most famous for selling traditional Kashmiri dresses, especially those with Kashmiri embroidery and attracts women of all ages.
“I bought two Kashmiri shawls and three pairs of shalwar kameez with unique Kashmiri needlework to wear at Eid,” said Dr Fauzia.
Humaira Karim, a university student, said, “I’ve been coming to this market since I was a little girl because the quality of clothes they sell has always been superb.”
Manzoor Sheikh, owner and operator of Srinagar Shawl House and Karhai Centre, is confident about his business says “the demand for Kashmiri embroidery has shot up beyond our imagination in the last two decades”.
Sheikh said in order to cater to the barrage of orders during Eid and wedding seasons, he purchases embroidered cloths from Srinagar.
Besides Kashmiri embroidery, shawls and needlework, customers also demand Swati and Multani embroidered dresses which are less expensive than the traditional Kashmiri embroidery, shopkeeper and designer Muhammad Yousaf Butt told The Express Tribune.
Butt said Kashmiri stitching has extended to threadwork which is more affordable, and due to its low price, the same work with cotton thread is also being done on suits, shawls, saris, bridal dresses and even bedsheets.
“However, Kashmiri embroidery items are costly. Using low quantity of normal quality thread in a shalwar kameez would cost anywhere from Rs5,000 to Rs40,000,” Butt revealed.
The craft of designing is undertaken by people who migrated from Indian Kashmir in the 1990’s and have settled in Muzaffarabad, but now, local and upcoming designers have caught on and do almost the same kind of work.
People from far-flung areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the families of overseas Kashmiris form the bulk of customers at Medina Market, according to Sheikh.
He said that among the thousands of choices for customers, most prefer to buy camel-coloured dresses, black shawls and blue kurtas with long shirts which are equally popular with young and old women alike.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2013.