‘Puneri Pagdi’ & Shawl – With love from Mumbai Dabbawalas to King Charles III

Mumbai, May 6 (IANS)
As King Charles III is coronated on Saturday in London with the famed 362-year-old solid gold ‘St. Edwards Crown’, another traditional headgear from his humble admirers in Mumbai will vie for attention in the glitter and glamour of the ‘Crown Jewels’.
Mumbai’s world-famous Dabbawalas have sent a gift of a traditional saffron-hued ‘Puneri Pagdi’ and a pure-white ‘Uparne’ (stole or shawl) for King Charles III and Queen Camilla for their historic coronation event this afternoon in Great Britain.
The coronation gifts were handed over to the British Deputy High Commission officials this week in Mumbai by the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charitable Trust (NMTBSCT) trustees like President Ulhas S. Muke, Ramdas Karvande, Vinod Shette and Sopan Mare.
“We have bought these special gifts of the ‘Puneri Pagdi’ and the traditional shawls made by the Warkari community for King Charles III and Queen Camilla,” gushed Muke.
However, he said that the Buckingham Palace did not extend an invitation to the Dabbawalas for the crowning glory of the King and Queen on Saturday.
“Hence, we attended a pre-coronation function organised by the British Deputy High Commission here this week and handed over the gifts for the King and Queen, which will reach them today,” Muke told IANS.
The NMTBSCT Spokesperson Ritesh S. Andre said that the ‘Puneri Pagdi’ symbolised pride and honour, and was worn by the Pune royalty in the 19th century, while the ‘Uparne’ is an attire for special ceremonial or festive occasions.
The Dabbawalas Trustees were felicitated by the British Deputy High Commission authorities and they reciprocated with their best wishes to the King and Queen on their formal coronation on Saturday.
On Saturday afternoon, the Dabbawalas gathered at their office, displayed a picture of Prince Charles meeting them in Mumbai, distributed sweets and celebrated his coronation as King Charles III.
Some of them recounted cherished anecdotes and vivid memories of their meeting with the Prince, and how he had not forgotten them even after becoming the King.
The Dabbawalas shot to global limelight when (the then) Prince Charles met them in Mumbai in 2003 and was impressed by their hard work that had earned them a top Sigma 6 rating in 1998.
In 2005, Prince Charles invited the Dabbawalas for his wedding with Camilla Parker-Bowles which was attended by Raghunath Medge and Sopan Mare.
At that time, they had presented the newly-wedded royal couple with gifts of a Maharashtrian ‘Pheta’ and a traditional ‘nauvari sari’ (nine-yards sari).
Later, on other occasions, the Dabbawalas have rallied together to send gifts and blessings to the British Royalty members, like a ‘Pheta’ and ‘Paithani Sari’ for the wedding of Prince Harry with Meghan Markle in 2018, and in 2019, a set of Maharashtrian baby silver jewellery for their son Archie.
The 2,000-odd tribe of Dabbawalas is globally acclaimed for pursuing the 130-year-old trade of picking up, delivering and returning lunch boxes to more than 200,000 lakh office-goers in Mumbai, though the trade took a severe beating during the three years of Covid-19 pandemic.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

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