A unique craft store

At first glance, the store called "Himalayan Dowry An Anti-Dowry Store" seems like any other place dealing in Kashmiri handicrafts, except for its name. Only on enquiring, would one realize that there is more to this outlet situated on M. G. Road. Incidentally, it is in the basement of a building near the office of the Printers (Mysore) Pvt. Ltd. (publishing Deccan Herald, Prajavani, et al).

According to the website of the store, it traces its origins to an establishment in Kashmir in the year 1809. This was founded by a great Sufi and healer, Kh. Naqi Ali Shawl from Hamdan in Persia. He apparently introduced the trade in shawls to the world and his descendants hold the title even now. Zafar A. Shawl runs the Bangalore unit started in 1988 on Commercial street, originally. It stocks a range of Kashmiri jewellery, pearls and precious stones, Pashmina shawls, hand woven carpets, silverware, brass and wood work, painted and papier mache pieces, etc.

Rani Vijayadevi, Thakurani of Kotda-Sangani and a sister of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, the last Maharaja of Mysore, inaugurated the present shop in Bangalore in 1990. As per records, an exquisite Jamawar shawl and sparkling jewellery were sold to Rajalakshmi, Rani of Shawaganga and Rajkumari Kamakshi Devi, a daughter of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, respectively. At one time, the store was one of the two private shops from India to be listed in Let’s Go (India and Nepal), the world’s best selling budget travel series book. The outlet exports handicrafts across the globe and attracts customers from everywhere. It is authorised by the ministry of commerce, government of India.

Why the name?

The phrase Himalayan Dowry was derived from a 14th century ritual where a girl’s family would give a Himalayan stone as a dowry to a prospective groom. The boy’s household would reciprocate the gesture. However, if the girl did not like the alliance, she would return the stone. Zafar Shawl says, "We want to take people back to an age when dowry was was a beautiful concept and not a curse". He is a certified gemologist and crystal healer who studied in the city and has spent most of his life here apart from some years in Europe.

Owing to objections from women’s groups who thought that he was promoting the exchange of dowry, Shawl added the words An Anti-Dowry Store. Further, from 1992 onwards, he has been assisting victims of dowry harassment in Bangalore and Kashmir by counselling their husbands and marital families. Some of the items in the outlet are made by women who have suffered due to the dowry menace. The funds from the sales are redirected to the ladies themselves. "Our anti-dowry effort is a voluntary one. We do not wish to become an NGO or promote this activity specifically", shared the modest Shawl. He has reached out to more than fifty ladies in distress. There is also a helpline which connects women affected adversely by the dowry system to people who are experienced in handling such cases. In keeping with the renewed focus on gender crimes, Shawl has also initiated efforts to sensitize students in high schools and colleges about the issue.

Reach Shawl at himalayandowry@yahoo.com or 98450-34419

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Addressing pet dog attacks: A balance between regulation and compassion

Government intervention is necessary to prevent indiscriminate breeding and trade of pet dogs, and more shelters are needed for abandoned pets.

Recently, two pet Rottweiler dogs attacked a five-year-old child and her mother in a  Corporation park in Nungambakkam, Chennai. Based on a complaint following the incident, police arrested the owners of the dog for negligence and endangering the lives of others (IPC Section 289 and 336). As General Manager-Administration of the Blue Cross of India, I have seen several Rottweilers over the years. While there are laws to address such situations, there needs to be adequate awareness among pet owners that dogs like Rottweilers should be taken for a walk only on a leash. A major portion of the responsibility…

Similar Story

Bardhaman town’s tourism potential: Why it must be developed

West Bengal's Bardhaman town has immense tourism potential. Its development must prioritise sustainable tourism and civic development.

Bardhaman town, renowned for its Bengali sweets like mihidana and sitabhog, is also famous for its rich tapestry of folk culture and heritage sites. The town has immense potential for tourism. But the question arises, how much of it has been explored?   This article aims to shed light on Bardhaman's historical sites, the initiatives to promote tourism while addressing the civic issues hindering its progress, and highlight the need to balance tourism with sustainable development.  Heritage sites of Bardhaman Sher Afghan’s tomb  Located beside Pir Beharam, close to Rajbati, lies the  tomb of Sher Afghan, the resting place of the last…