Delhi marriages may be made in heaven but their announcements are more likely to be printed in Chawri Bazaar. Ask Nandini and Anupam, or Vikas and Reema. Like thousands of Delhi’s soon-to-be-married couples, they, too, are having their wedding cards printed here.
This market, a part of which is dedicated exclusively to wedding cards, has an easy access. If you are at the Chawri Bazaar Metro station (Delhi’s deepest Metro stop), walk in the direction of Jama Masjid. Soon chaat stalls will give way to card shops (more clue: daily wage labourers carrying tonnes of A-4 size paper on their bent back). This is our destination. Big is the word. A store owner casually observed that the bazaar has more than 500 card shops. Another claimed it to be Asia’s biggest mandi of paper and wedding cards. It wasn’t always so. The card business started here during the 70s. The business quickly gained pace as the people needed to make cards, and designers, printers and labourers were already in the area. The trade flourished and today you find a variety of cards here — from Rs 2 to Rs 80 upwards, in colours ranging from garish maroons and purples to conservative whites. They are printed in many languages and cater to everybody, from Hindus and Sikhs to Muslims and Christians.
The stores usually stipulate a ‘50 card’ minimum. and the ongoing wedding season is the busiest time. Both big showrooms and small stalls are then crowded with shoppers —Mummies, Papas, bhaiyas, didis, jijajis — agonising over designs, the colours and the wording.
“Nowadays, boys and girls often come themselves to choose their wedding cards,” says Vipin Ahuja of Cards Corner. The younger generation, which prefers “sober and non-flashy cards” is often at odds with parents who want “as many religious symbols as possible”, he says. During the season, Ahuja prints around 25,000 cards monthly. Not impressed? Multiply that with 500 shops and you have 1 crore and 25 lakh invitations coming out from the card market each month.