As wedding season approaches in Hyderabad's Old City, it's hard to ignore the hustle and bustle in the lanes of Lad Bazaar. But the rush is not for bangles, which the area is famous for. Instead, locals here are busy shopping for 'pagadis' or turbans.
The winding lanes of Lad Bazaar feature a festive look as the demand for these pagadis has shot up massively over the last few years. Shops are witnessing major activity as customers are coming up with different requests.
Parvez Khan, an employee of one of 'Maharaja Pagadi' in Lad Bazaar, tells TNM, "We are very active these days. The culture of pagadis in Hyderabad has been around for many years, as the Nizams and their courtiers including the Nawabs of Hyderabad used the pagadis as a symbol of royalty and honour."
"The uniform of students from Nizam College and Osmania University during the Nizam era was also incomplete without the typical Nizami cap and the Sherwani," he adds.
A growing trend
Prior to Independence, the pagadis were worn largely by the so-called elite classes. However, after Hyderabad State merged into India, pagadis were adopted by the general masses.
Today, the situation is such that marriages and functions in Old City seem to be incomplete without seeing men sporting pagadis, as it has become an integral part of the attire.
While the older generation prefers plain pagadis, the younger generation has turned these turbans into a fashion trend and are looking for newer, bold patterns. Many even want their pagadis decorated with ornaments.
Elaborating on the types and details of the pagadis, Parvez Khan said that they were witnessing an influx of demand for the types of pagadis like Marwadi, Jodhpuri, Pathani, Rajasthani and the Nizami pagadi.
He observed that as far as the style and fashion of pagadis is concerned, the choice and preference of the youth, differed from others.
Apart from Muslim marriages, participants of Bonalu, Ganesh and Navaratri processions are also seen sporting the pagdis.
"Some youth are even wearing the pagadis while participating in competitions like fashion shows," Parvez Khan says.
"About 20 to 25 years ago, all we made were simple padagis. Now, those are outdated, and we have changed with the changing times and the designs have become more colourful and vibrant," says Qadeer Mohd, who has been in the business for decades.
Making the pagadis
Workers at various shops said that they made the pagadis with Organza fabric, besides silk and cotton.
"The materials are bought from Varanasi, Rajasthan, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. However, the ornaments for the pagadis are bought ready-made from Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, which is famous for its imitation jewellery, besides Mumbai and Jaipur," says Abed, a worker at one store.
The pagadis themselves are made by workers in the shop, as per the customer's specifications. Besides some ready-made pagadis, there are also options to customize them.
Even as one takes a stroll around the shops, customers can be seen in deep discussion with workers about new arrivals or the orders that they had placed, expressing their satisfaction with the final product.
In fact, many workers say that handling customers itself has become a Herculean task, as they are forced to work longer to complete the orders and meet their targets.
"A large number of different political leaders from Hyderabad and Telangana have also started buying the pagadis of late, to felicitate their respective party leaders as it has become a trend," Qadeer says.
Stating that women had also begun wearing pagadis in some cases, Abed says, "Workers in some of the shops are also hired for marriages, where we go to their homes or the function halls and make pagadis for the groom and his relatives and friends."
Makers of the pagadis say that business has been good for them, especially during the marriage season, which lasts till April, and they hope that the trend will continue.