Madhya Pradesh- A mystic blend of traditional designs and royal charms
Madhya Pradesh is predominantly a tribal state with Gond tribe being the ruler community. Even through the modernisation of 20th century, the tribal population here is still untouched by the mainstream India. Thanks to this very phenomenon, the tribes here continue to uphold their traditions and jewellery is no different. You can spot men and women clad in their traditional costumes even today. Apart from that, the state has also been ruled by many royal families. They too during their regime added a new flavour to the jewellery tradition of this state. Let’s take a quick look at the ever-evolving jewellery culture of this region broadly as well as region-wise.
Madhya Pradesh is among the fastest growing states in India in gems and jewellery, pharma products, transport equipment, machinery, ready-made garments, agro produce like soya and wheat, leather made animals, etc., and is ranked 7th amongst all exporting states of the country. As it has the only running diamond mine (at Panna) in the country, it is one of the largest producers of gems and precious stones. In fact, it is said that huge reserves of these gems are still untapped and there is great potential for investors to explore this opportunity. Factually speaking, with 6,04,000 carats of proven diamond reserves, it accounts for 99 per cent of Indian total reserves.
So, cutting and polishing of diamonds can emerge as a major industrial activity here, fuelling the growth of the jewellery manufacturing industry of the state. Gold is another flourishing segment of gems and jewellery here. Although it is still placed amongst the cottage industries in this region, the upcoming gems and jewellery park is expected to give a fillip to the whole business.
When modern meets tradition
The cultural heritage of Madhya Pradesh is extremely ancient and spans from Stone Age to the regime of kings and Nawabs. Exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces take anyone by surprise. This rich art culture of the state is well reflected in the gems and jewellery produced by the craftsmen here.
In spite of being a leading state in the area of gem and jewellery in India, the GJ industry in Madhya Pradesh is relatively under developed. Now, it is being treated as a thrust sector in the New Industrial Policy and various concessions and incentives have been provided to the businesses dealing in gems and jewellery.
The important cities of Madhya Pradesh which include Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior and Jabalpur have good retail markets and a cosmopolitan life style and therefore, make for a diverse consumer base. With the modernisation of tier two cities of the nation, Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur and Gwalior too opened up to modern jewellery retail concepts.
Indore, often referred to as ‘Mini Mumbai’, offers a blend of modernity and tradition. Though a tier-two city, today, Indore contributes to more than 30 per cent of the total commercial revenue of Madhya Pradesh.
Among other things, Indore is famous for its Sarafa Bazaar – a jewellery market located in central Indore. FYI, Sarafa is the only market in India which remains as a jewellery marketplace at daytime and turns into a street food court at night. The market consists of two sub-markets – namely Bada Sarafa Bazaar and Chhota Sarafa Bazaar.
Located two kilometres from Indore’s central marketplace Rajwada, Sarafa is the central trading point for jewellery, artifacts and ornaments. Sarafa is also the place of origin of Indore and Madhya Pradesh Sarafa Association. A 153-year-old establishment, Sarafa houses about 1,500 jewellery shops while the Sarafa Association Indore has about 854 members.
Hukumchand Soni, President, Indore Sarafa Association and Proprietor, Jaggubhai Jewellers informed: “The goodwill of Sarafa is such that three generations of families visit here to purchase jewellery, as for them the wedding is incomplete if jewellery is not purchased from here. The designs created by Marwari jewellers still hold prominence amongst the buyers.”
He goes on to add that today the whole market has slowly turned into a retail format. “Earlier silver was traded in big quantity and it was supplied even to bigger centres like Bombay and Kolkata. Chota Sarafa was the big centre for trade. People were happy to work on thin margins. From 1962, people got involved into the retail business. Along-with silver, gold shops were opened. At that time, Gold Control Act was in full force. Only 18 traders were having the license to deal in gold. Today, almost 2,000 jewellers are conducting business to the tune of crores of rupees in a single day,” he explained.
According to Avinash Shastri, Secretary, Indore Sarafa Association, Sarafa is the melting pot of big and small jewellers. “Earlier, it supplied jewellery to the whole of Madhya Pradesh and even today, it is a big centre for Rajkot silver and ornaments. Buyers from villages are the main customers of this market area. Unlike urban customers, they buy heavyweight traditional items. Local Sarafa traders mostly get ornaments from the wholesale jewellers of Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Jaipur. Apart for marriages, other auspicious activities such as mundan, griha pravesh and naam karam are some of the big occasions for buyers to purchase jewellery in Indore. Even light-weight fancy ornaments are in demand here,” he shared.
Bhopal, known for its lush greenery and beautiful lakes, is one amongst the few cities which is considered to be developed as a Smart City. With a population of about 2.8 million, an average annual household income of Rs. 1,65,210 and average annual household expenditure of Rs. 1,28,836, Bhopal has recently been designated as “boomtown” by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).
Moreover, Bhopal’s Spending Propensity, measured as the share of household consumption expenditure in income, was found to be the highest of the 20 cities featured in the NCAER survey though its household income growth was the lowest.
“Bhopal is emerging as one of the metro cities and being the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, it is attracting various industries and MNCs which shows a strong sign for jewellery franchise opportunities. Moreover, with rising income and increased consumption, Bhopal is truly a buzzing jewellery marketplace. Apart from the occasion-based purchases, a lot of consumption is being driven by the changing lifestyle across localities,” pointed out Goving Agarwal, President, Shri Sarafa Association Bhopal.
Bhopal is also known for Thappa and Thussa jewellery. Thappa literally means stamping and so, this form of jewellery-making results from embossing sheets of gold, mixed with metals like copper, beaten into wafer-thin plates, with floral and geometric patterns. In Thussa work, goldsmiths braid together strands of gold to make elaborate neckpieces, bangles and arm bands. Both these forms of jewellery making are dying arts with fewer locals investing in them.
“The mindset of people of Bhopal is very business-friendly and that is why, all industries and businesses coming to Madhya Pradesh anchor here. We are ahead in the game not because of external support but because of the enterprise of our people. Of late, the city has become a key target market for big retail chains where there is high demand to open a new store in the city,” updated Vinay Agarwal, Proprietor, Ratiwant Jewellers, Bhopal.
Gwalior has been an important economic district of Madhya Pradesh with kings and rulers targeting the district for its riches. Traditionally, the city was mainly revered for the fort which offered protection from invasions. The region is popular for the Jalli (lattice) work. The artistes of this region normally design beautiful gold and silver jewellery studded with precious as well as semi- precious stones and also pearls. These are always coated with enamel work, making them look even more beautiful.
Some of the special type of bangles they make, which are of lac and glass, is worn by all the communities. The anklets, which they used, are clove shaped beads. These are usually made of silver. The artisans do make chokers, bead chains, earrings and hair ornaments in the traditional designs. All these ornaments have a golden luster as well. Some of the other important ornaments for married women are Mangalsutra and Hansuli. Bead and metal jewellery worn by the tribes here is another hot favourite with city dwellers.
Gwalior’s Sarafa Bazaar is one of the oldest markets in the city and also, the most popular one. Moreover, many jewellery shops are situated near Jayaji Chowk, also known as Maharaj Bada.