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'Kirpan' makers go global

Vijay C Roy  |  Chandigarh 

Thanks to the burgeoning demand from the overseas market — especially from non-resident Indians (NRIs) — as well as from foreign tourists, Amritsar’s Rs 60 crore kirpan-making cottage industry is poised to develop a global footprint. In order to reach buyers, traditional manufacturers have also registered themselves with trading portals.

Amritsar is well-known for its superior quality kirpans, or ceremonial swords. About a dozen big manufacturers and a number of small units are involved in the manufacture and trading of swords. The cottage industry, which also makes other traditional sharp-edged weapons, caters to the needs of the domestic and the foreign market.

These conventional weapons are prepared in various cities across the country for religious and other occasions like weddings (grooms carry a kirpan) and decoration purposes.

The road leading to the Golden Temple in Amritsar is lined with shops selling kirpans. With the gradual increase in the number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting the city, retail business (besides exports) has also become lucrative for the local traders.

Speaking to Business Standard, Surinder Pal Singh of Surjit Kirpan Factory said, “We are doing very well, since there is demand in the overseas as well as domestic market. Swords manufactured here are exported to USA, Canada, Australia and European countries. The majority of customers are Sikhs, who need it for religious functions and other purposes.”

He added that in the recent past a new trend had emerged, as even foreigners were purchasing kirpans to adorn the walls of their homes.

Centuries ago, Amritsar used to be a sword manufacturing hub, but with the passage of time kirpans have been transformed from weapons in battle to an accessory in religious rites and as drawing room showpieces.

First Published: Tue, February 09 2010. 23:48 IST