Emails and SMSes haven’t eroded Sultanpet’s status as the place to go to for wedding invitations

Marriages are made in heaven, or so the saying goes, but for most Bangaloreans, wedding cards are made in Sultanpet.

In other cities such as Chennai, wedding card companies are typically sprinkled across the city, but it seems that in Bangalore, if you must get a wedding card (or indeed any other kind of card) made, it has to be in Sultanpet.

Beginning on one stretch just opposite the BBMP school, a string of shops scream their offerings: best, exclusive wedding and invitation cards, wholesale rates, and so on. Even amidst the busy weekly market that takes place every Sunday, it’s difficult to miss the fact that you’ve probably stepped into some wedding wonderland.

These stores range from newer, glitzy ones — walls done up attractively to showcase the shops’ wares — to more sombre, but equally well-stocked, outlets.

All of them typically harbour one or two families poring over card sizes, paper types, design or font.

Babulal Jain has run Rajat Card Centre (which falls in the latter of the two above categories) for over 20 years, following in the steps of his parents, who migrated from Rajasthan to set up their paper business in the area. When I enter, he is busy giving a family advice on the paper and design for their wedding card.

He steps aside to tell me his theory of why the paper-and-card business continues to thrive: “If someone is a close friend, people want to show it through a card,” whether it is for weddings or house-warming ceremonies or other functions, he says. “This mail and SMS is new, it has only just picked up. People still need to use paper cards”. (Of course, that hasn’t stopped these businesses from keeping up with the times themselves — a handful of stores in the area also advertise their online presence.)

But why exactly has this area become a hub? Karthik Shashidhar might have one explanation. Karthik, who is a management consultant and quantitative advisor with the Takshashila Foundation, bought the cards for his wedding from a store in Sultanpet. He thinks the clustering of paper/card stores (as well as the other profession-based clustering that is so typical to the pete area) is a natural process, aided by popular perception.

“Suppose you are a shopkeeper and you think you can save on money by moving, let’s say, to the outskirts.” he illustrates. “Your costs might be lower, but since everyone thinks that the hub is in [a particular area], they’ll go there and not come to you.”

‘Reasonable rates’

Manjunath R., an autorickshaw driver, can attest to that. He got the invitation cards for his house-warming function and his son’s wedding made here. “The rates here are the most reasonable,” he says. “As far as I can tell, all of Bangalore comes to Sultanpet the moment there is any function to be organised.”

And you don’t have to be part of impending nuptials to make a worthwhile trip to Sultanpet, either. Ask city-based illustrator Priya Sebastian, who knows where to go when she’s running short of paper.

“Sultanpet is a veritable treasure trove for finding unusual papers at reasonable prices, and in the sizes I require,” she says. She works heavily with charcoal, and this requires a particular type of textured paper.

“The pure joy of digging through shelves of innumerable kinds of papers beats the heat, dust and chaos that one has to endure — it is a worthwhile adventure,” she says.

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