It is the season of NRI festivals. The holiday season in the Gulf countries means it is brisk business for the shops here
Once again its homecoming time for the Non Resident Indians. And ‘The Queen of the Arabian Sea’ is all set to welcome them back, not just from the Arabian land but from all over the world. NRIs pick the latest in ethnic, bridal, office, party wear and jewellery along with other accessories, during their short visit. And they often find the western stuff much cheaper here.
The shops in the city are thus swarming with NRIs during these months of June and July. Many leading textile shops like Jayalakshmi and Seemati celebrate this season as NRI festival. Even jewellery shops celebrate the season.
“We found that during these months our customers mainly comprise NRIs partly because it’s their vacation time and partly because local customers don’t do their shopping now. So three years ago, we introduced the NRI Fest,” says a spokesman from Jayalakshmi.
Though the fest is meant for clothes for all occasions, bridal wear is the main attraction.
“ Most NRI marriages take place in these months, so bridal wear is of much demand.” says a salesperson there. Bridal sarees with kundan stone work, Zardozi work, French knot work, mirror work; made of crepe, georgette, net, or kanchipuram silk, add shine to their marriages.
Cloths ranging from Rs.2000 to Rs.2, 00000 can be bought from Royale, the exclusive NRI section, at Jayalakshmi.
Seemati introduces new attractions each year, like multicoloured bridal brocade, meant for NRI brides and bridegrooms. Saris made in their own loom, hand woven ones, ethnic ones with traditional designs and prints, saris with appliqué work, kathari work and dhagha work are there. They have a wide range of varied coloured collection to pick from. There is a lot for men too, especially those who love to dress up for the occasion. There are sherwanis, and benarasi tops with intricately woven embroidery and designs.
“We have customers from all over the world for this apparel festival, which will definitely last till Onam” says Beena Kannan, MD of Seemati. But it’s not true that they only pick ethnic Indian wear. There are many who shop clothes meant for daily use and office use. “We usually shop twice when we come home from the States. First for our relatives here and then for our friends abroad, because even clothes for daily use are expensive there.” says Jayashree settled in Kansas, USA.”
“Its not just ethnic wear that NRIs buy” says Baby Paul, manager of My Kingdom. He adds, “They buy clothes, accessories, chocolates and toys of the same quality and brand that are available there, at much cheaper rates.” A staff at Raymond’s Shop says, “They get their office clothes stitched here, since stitching and material charges are high abroad.” Even tailors are quite busy these days with NRIs pouring in every now and then with bulk stitching orders.
“We have customers from Dubai and Muscat who come with bulk orders of even up to 20 salwars.”says the owner of Paris Tailors, Convent Junction.
The jewellery items find equal demand with all these offers available in the leading jewellery shops, related to the fest going on. “We like ornaments with traditional designs and there’s no better place than Kerala to find it” says Susy John an NRI customer from Kuwait.
Why has the city suddenly become the shopping destination of NRIs?
“Indian dresses and jewellery are really expensive there and we have limited selection and fewer shops. This makes us prefer such fests to do our shopping when we come here for our visits,” says Usha, settled at Basel, Switzerland.
“ To buy gifts for relatives from abroad is not economically practical and to bring the stuff through baggage is even costlier…” complains Shalu Sunny from London. “So this time I plan to check out the NRI fests in the leading shops of the city.”
So, keeping the needs of the NRIs in view, the shopping outlets in the city are catering to their tastes, so that rains or no rains, the shops remain busy. After the NRIs return, it is the desi rush for Onam attire…from one season to another….
K. MARY ELIZABETH