From the beautiful and colourful phulkari embroidered dupattas to the many dance forms practiced here, the city of Amritsar enjoys a vibrant and lively culture that draws one in with its warmth.

Phulkari

The traditional embroidery of Punjab, phulkari or flower work features colourful geometric patterns stitched in a dense formation. It is generally practiced on bedspreads, dupattas and suit fabrics. The hallmark of this embroidery is the use of darn stitch with a colourful silk thread on the wrong side of the cloth. There are a variety of motifs that are weaved in phulkari embroidery, most of which depend upon the occasion. While the wari da bagh (made on an orange-red khaddar and embroidered on the whole surface) is a symbol of happiness, chope (a two-sided line stitch that appears the same on both sides and is usually done on the borders) is generally a gift from the maternal uncle to the bride. Chamba, ghunghat bagh and suber are some of the other varieties of phulkari. This embroidery was initially done by women as a past time and it takes about 80 days to prepare a phulkari embroidered salwaar kameez. The technique of phulkari is believed to have been brought to the Indian subcontinent by the Jats of Central Asia. 

Phulkari

Thatheras

Handcrafted brass and copper utensils have been made since time immemorial in Amritsar. They are used for cooking in homes and restaurants even today as they are believed to be beneficial for health. The community of people who create these unique utility pieces is called Thatheras. Interestingly, this is the only Indian craft to be part of UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. To create these utensils, cooled cakes of metal are beaten into thin, flat plates and then hammered into a curved shape. This is how small bowls, larger pots and rimmed plates are made. The utensils are finished manually by polishing them with tamarind juice and sand. At the final stage, designs are etched into the utensils by hammering tiny dents into heated metal. The technique of making these utensils is passed down from generation to generation. 

Kikli

A folk dance form of Punjab, kikli involves the participation of  two or more young girls, who hold hands and spin on their toes. It is more of a sport than a dance and the girls spin around with colourful and vibrant ‘orhins’ or ‘duppattas’ tied to their heads. The tinkling of the anklets that they wear adds melody to the dance. 

Bhangra

A traditional fast-paced dance form of Punjab, bhangra is based on the events of a farmer’s daily life. Performers, dressed in colourful clothes, dance to traditional music and sounds of instruments like dhol (a type of drum), iktar (a single-stringed instrument) and chimta (a musical instrument). It is one of the most popular folk dances of the state of Punjab and is mainly performed by men. Originally, it was practised to celebrate Baisakhi, the harvest festival of the state. However, today it is practiced  on most festive occasions and is a part of pop culture. As for the history of the dance form, it originated during the Indo-Scythian period of Punjab in 2000 BC. The major themes of bhangra songs are social issues, money, love, marriage etc.

Bhangra

Giddha

Performed by women, giddha involves performers standing in a circle, while one woman sits in the centre and plays the dhol (double-headed drum). The dance form is a representation of the life of women in rural Punjab and is performed during festive occasions of sowing and reaping the harvest. As per legend, giddha originated from the ring dance that was quite prevalent in Punjab in ancient times.

Giddha