They are cute, cuddly and colourful. And they are turning heads on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran highway. These plastic toys of Sikh boys are selling like hot cakes, attracting local residents as well as non-resident Indians (NRIs).
Their prices range from Rs 300 to Rs 650. The toys show boys dressed up as turbaned nihangs or schoolgoing children wearing the ‘patka’. On an average, each vendor is selling around 30 toys a day.
There are at least three spots on a 15-km stretch of National Highway-15 where these home-made items are being sold. People are buying them as gift and souvenirs.
Talking to HT, Jaswant Singh, who claims to be a pioneer in the trade, says he came up with the idea four years ago. Now, he sells these toys outside Baba Naudh Singh’s Samadh (shrine). “I sold them at Takht Hazur Sahib (Nanded, Maharashtra) for three years. For the past year and a half, I have been doing it in Amritsar. This has become a family business for us as my wife and daughter are stitching the traditional clothes worn by the toys,” he adds.
Replying to a question, the vendor says, “We ensure that these toys are made in accordance with Sikh ‘maryada’ (religious code). Nothing is objectionable as the toys portray Sikh boys, not any Guru. The demand is picking up and I recently sent them to Germany and England.”
Another vendor, Balwinder Singh Happy, says, “There are a few vendors who are buying Chinese dolls in bulk and then converting them into Sikh toys. However, I am buying the toys from a local market and then modifying them.”
He adds that many families are buying these toys to show the ‘Sikhi Saroop’ to their children so that they can draw inspiration to follow the faith.
“Kids tell their parents that they want similar turbans. People have also demanded that we should produce dolls of Sikh girls,” says Happy.