Thursday, March 12, 2009

Will the humble Cloth Bag please stand up...

In south Indian weddings one usually has a little giveaway bag also called "Muhurtam Pai" which contains a number of auspicious things like coconuts, betel leaves/nuts, Kumkumum and so on and these are given after the Wedding ceremony is completed.  In the old days these used to be given away in YELLOW and REd bags signifying Manjal/Kumkumum or Turmeric/Crimson which are auspicious for any wedding.

These bags are usually given at South Indian stores like Saree shops, Coffee Shops(who can forget the very typical LEO Coffee Bags) with the names of the shops. As these bags are re-used by so many of us while shopping for vegetables and the like, its an obvious reusable/recycleable item

Our wedding contractor said that since its OLD FASHIONED, we only have plastic bags that can be arranged. And the Jute bags were bloody expensive. While one can debate if that was the cost price or we were being deterred as he would rather have us going for the "very popular" Plastic bag, Thought i must try and source it from Chennai. The place where we claim to have NOT lost the love for tradition and all things OLD.

I went to Parry's Corner(basis some recommendations), the area near Olympic Card shop full of shops that wholesale Wedding/puja/Upanayanam type bags. All kinds of bags in plastic and thermocole like material, some crap material called NETLON even but NO cloth Bags!! The shop keepers tell me wistfully no one will have cloth bags in these stores and most people sourced only plastic and the ilk for auspicious functions. 

I finally found two stores(bless them) that actually made them in Cloth one was a very nondescript shop A. Anantha Krishna Chetty & Son(N.S.C. Bose Road) and another was S. N. Rao and Sons(Bunder street) who actually made cloth Bags and could deliver it in time for the wedding.

Had also tried sourcing it from one of our well known handloom kurta/home furnishing shops. While they said it would be INR 12 per piece(they made them out of Cut pieces) and needed a week to hand it over. It would be too late. But i would like to recomend that option in case one has enough time.

Then there is Cotton World(CWC), wherein you add INR 10 with your bill, and Cotton world adds inr 20 and your shopping gets packed in a cloth bag, the proceeds of which go to Child Relief & You(CRY). You can also buy them at INR 30 per piece.

Other sources I tried and failed was Co-optex! and the huge handloom exhibition that's on in EGMORE near CO-OPTEX. can you believe it, No cloth bags!

So what happened to the humble cloth Bag ? I still remember my grand moms and my mom using old curtains to remake Bags for shopping, cushions/pillow covers, as all households at some time or the other had a Merritt Singer Sewing machine. Why I still remember  bags made of my old School uniform skirts(with the sides upturned to get the non faded side) and we had Bags! 

I think I can safely say that, am a Fan of the humble cloth bag and glad it takes its rightful  place during a VERY important event in my life on 23rd March!

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