Like grandmom’s pai

Utilitarian and graceful: The surukkupai has returned. Photo: special arrangement  

Surukkupai is a small bag usually made out of fabric with drawstrings. This could easily be one of the oldest accessories in the South of India. The surukkupai culture they say began in Madurai. Most of us will remember our grandmoms or their friends with a surukkupai tucked into their sari at their waists. I vividly remember some elderly ladies at a temple fiddling with their surukku pais. As an accessory, it had a lot of utilitarian value. As those were the good old days when cell phones didn't exist and nobody carried makeup around, the surukkupai served to be an aesthetic and useful accessory to carry their vethalai paaku.

Chenthamarai, a tailor in Papanaickenpalayam, reminisces that he used to stitch surukkupais from leftover bits of cloth given to stitch blouses, at no extra charge. In more recent years, the paati's surukku pai has transformed into a more contemporary fashion accessory. The surukku pai has given way to the chic potlis or the batuas of today. Younger women generally tend to pair them with a sari or a salwar kameez. The potlis come out in a rainbow of colours during the wedding season. Designers have also made the batua an accessory to own. My favourite designer duo of the batua are Chamee & Palak. More widely known for their lehengas, their batuas are unique and ornate too.

A temple border Kancheepuram sari paired with a simple Mangalagiri cotton potli for a morning function is elegance personified. On the contrary, carry a hand embroidered batua made of Banaras silk fabric for a night out to feel luxurious and grand. The beauty of the modern surukkupai lies in the fact that you can use it to dress up or dress down as you deem fit for the occasion.

During traditional functions when return gifts have to be given, the potli is the perfect gift, especially when filled with bangles and sindoor.

It is indeed a lovely piece of handcrafted art that represents our culture and heritage and, therefore, the most appropriate gift to give your friends abroad. It shows them our diverse crafts and the variety of textiles our country has to offer. Be a fashionista and carry your surukkupai with pride!

Shrivyshnavi Annush is a software engineer who pursues her passion for fashion and design. She has launched a curated fashion accessories portal,

The accessories portal

Shrivyshnavi Annush recently organised a sneak peek into a collection of accessories that she is going to feature in her brand new website

“If we wanted access to some of the happening designers in the country, we had to visit their stores in big cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore. I always felt there was a dearth in fashion accessories and hence I decided to launch Pookaari,” says Shrivyshnavi.

Her carefully curated portal will feature designers from across the country and include brands such as Suhani Pittie, Raya, Mayaa Bazaar, MKBK (Madras Ka Bag Kompany), Deepa Sethi… Scarves, stoles, earrings, neckpieces, bags and clutches are some of the accessories that will be featured in the website. Pookaari will feature a minimum of two new collections every Thursday and the collection will remain online for two weeks.

Pookaari's pick

Besides the stylish range there will also be Pookaari’s Pick that will have a line of scarves in natural textiles, iPad sleeves and so on. The price of the accessories range between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 14,000.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 2:53:16 PM |

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