The Cutting Edge Mascot of Awadhi Culture

Gauri Bharadwaj

Lucknow, the ‘city of nawabs’, well it wouldn’t be wrong to call it the ‘heart of Uttar Pradesh’. The city has offerings for everyone. Not only the large things for our luxuries, but the city also has the little kaarigaris like scissors and knives. Among the daily needs of the people everywhere, scissors and knives are of utmost importance or like the Lucknowites call it kainchi and chhuri. As our lives become faster day by day, we often tend to forget to acknowledge the makers or as we call it kaarigars of these articles that make our lives and days easier. Knives, go back to the days of evolution of humans. Made of rocks and bones back in the day, these knives helped the evolution of the humans as time passed. With exquisite shapes and colours, Lucknow has beautified these tools.

These kainchi and chhuri/chaku, are the ones that make our day to day domestic works easy. But apart from this domestic use, they have an all new use. These not so fancy words find their use in phrases like, “Meethi chhuri”, “Chappan chhuri”, “Muh mein Ram bagal mein chhuri”, “Peeth me chhura bhokna”, “Udhar prem ki kainchi hai”, “Kainchi ki tarah zaban chalana”, etc. This fascination not only ends with words in domestic use, but instead, has grown and has its roots in Bollywood songs as well. Songs like “Chaku churriya tez karwa lo” sung by Asha Bhosle, “Chaku wala ñ churi wala”, “Churriya chal jae teri matwali chaal pe”, etc. give an example of how these words have shown importance in the entertainment industry as well.

Chowk in Lucknow is said to be famous for continuing the traditions of the city. And the same is being done by Raees Ahmad. Raees Ahmad has his shop at Chowk area. It is in his shop that he sharpens knives, scissors, razors etc for many years now. The shop was established in 1922. It is the fourth generation that is running the business now. The shop may not have the brightest light, but when the kaarigars, with the help of a large spinning wheel, sharpen a blunt object, the whole shop illuminates with the brightest of the light. Even with this being the 21st century, the shop has been able to maintain the age old practice. The shop has a large fan base, with the main customers being tailors, barbers and housewives. The sharpening in the shop costs only 30 to 35 Rupees.

Today, not many people indulge in the kaarigari of chaku and chhuri. It is because of the availability of cheap and fiber made scissors and knives. This is one of the main reason that there are only countable chakuwalas left in the city. It was not very long ago that people could see the chakuwalas roaming around on roads on their bicycles shouting “Chaku churi dhar karwa lo”. Even though it was amusing, the experience of watching them sharpen knives and scissors is something that cannot be compared.

Uski Kathai Ankho Mein Hai Jantar Mantar Sab,
Chaku Waqu Churiya Wuriya Khanjar Wanjar Sab,
Ishq Ke Sare Nuskhe Yeh Sab Mujh Se Seekhte Hain,
Nirmal Wirmal Jauhar Wauhar Manzar Wanzar Sab.
– Rahat Indori

The words, in four simple lines, tell us all about the kaarigari of chaqu and chhuri in the city. The city that has everything also acknowledges its traditions. And this is the beauty of the city.

Writer is a student of mass communication. Music, dance and literature are her interests.

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 2 Issue 17, Dated 05 August 2015)

Related Posts