Pune: Come January and the market is ready with all kinds of sweets, jewellery and clothes for Makar Sankranti which marks the first day of sun’s transit into the Makar (Capricorn) rashi, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. Black saree, kite flying and wearing of Halwyache Dagine (jewellery made from sweet sesame or sugar ornaments) are synonymous with the festival.
Although, black saree and kite flying continue to attract the attention, the art of making the jewellery is gradually fading out owing to the lack of skilled labours. The city, which is the cultural capital of the state, has only three production houses which are engaged in jewellery making business.
Jaywant Surve, owner of Surve Bandhu Ambewale, a city-based store at Bajirao Road, said, “We are facing the problem of unavailability of skilled workers who can meticulously, beautifully and delicately craft these jewellery and various designs. Earlier, women were engaged in making this jewellery but now, they give priority to jobs in other sectors as they pay well than this business.”
Unfavourable weather snaps business
Due to the prolonged monsoon in 2017, the manufactures of the jewellery faced a problem as they had to defer the production of the jewellery till October end which apparently should have started in September, besides paying extra labour charges which further dipped business.
Surve said, “We have 30 skilled labourers and this year, we prepared only 300, 250 and 800 ladies, gents and kids sets respectively. Otherwise, every year, we used to prepare on an average 500 to 1,000 sets of each category. There is a huge demand for the jewellery but the production is less due to arbitrary weather conditions.”
Sharing the same sentiments, Sonali Patankar, owner of Patankar Khauwale, on Bajirao Road said, “We have a staff of 70 women who make this jewellery. The entire jewellery is hand made but this year, we had to start making the jewellery late owing to the rains till mid-October. We started making the jewellery from October end and to meet the demand and complete the work in the deadline, we had to pay them extra charges.
We have prepared 20 types of ladies sets, eight to nine types of children and men’s set. Maharashtra Uddaniwale, yet another city-based manufacturer Mangal Dhembe at Mahatma Phule vegetable market, gave a different perspective. She said, “We are into the making of children’s Radha-Krishna set and hence, we did not face any problems. We made only 500 sets. We started production late in October but we finished it in time as the number was less.”
Trends this year
Patankar added, “Every year, the demand increases and people want new jewellery designs. Some of them give orders to make jewellery according to their son-in-law’s profession. This year, our Peshwai collection, Puneri Pagdi collection, Maharaj Set, Yuvraj Set and Madhav Set collection was in popular demand among women, children and men respectively. We do not cater to customers from the city only but also have orders from Indians settled abroad, in countries like United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Thailand, Australia, Brazil, etc.”
Patankar said, “More than 500 jewellery boxes are couriered to foreign countries from December 5 onwards. We have to carefully pack them. The children’s collection starts from Rs 1,350 the Peshwai collection is for Rs 7,000 while the men’s collection is also for Rs 7,000. We get orders online from other parts of India as well as from foreign countries.”
Surve said, “We have eight types of ladies sets this year, Organdi flower garland for gents and Radha-Krishna special for children. We also cater to jewellery orders from London, America and Dubai. Till now, 200 jewellery sets have been couriered to foreign countries.”