Indiana based Pritpal Singh is a professional safa draper who gets contracts to tie pagri or safa for Indian men during wedding ceremonies
If you have ever attended a big-fat Indian wedding ceremony, you may have come across many professional groomers who have become a part and parcel of an Indian wedding.
From henna artists to sari drapers â€“ no big Indian wedding ceremony is complete without these expert services. But now, as grooming and looking good gets more gender neutral, a new trend is emerging at Indian wedding ceremonies.
Men are now calling for professional pagri or safa experts to tie their headgear in a more fashionable way.
Indiana-based Pritpal Singh, is a professional pagri draper, who runs a company called â€˜Chicago Saffa,â€™ says that the demand has really escalated in recent times.
â€œRecently, I was invited to tie the safa for men during a wedding ceremony. I ended up tying the safa for 80 men in one night,â€ he told the American Bazaar over phone, â€œIt was tiring but also gratifying to see that men are really taking the art of turban tying seriously.â€
A safa is a single piece of cloth, which is tied around a manâ€™s head during a wedding ceremony. A safa signifies honor and respect and is worn by the groom and the men from the groomâ€™s side of the family as a mark of their identity during a wedding.
Interestingly, the tradition of safa is found across regions and religions in an Indian wedding. From Punjabis to Hindus to Sikhs â€“ each culture has their way of tying a safa to signify the groomâ€™s side of the family.
For many Indians in America, the art of safa tying is becoming obsolete as the tradition is only followed during special ceremonies.
Most men from the younger generation do not know the art of tying a safa or headgear and hence a professional service could be the order of the day. For Singh, who came to the US during the early 2000s, the profession of safa tying came as a chance encounter.
He says, â€œAs a Sikh, we tie turban on an everyday basis. And I was fast and good at it. Once during a friendâ€™s wedding ceremony, I helped the groom. People really liked the way the groomâ€™s safa turned out and the word spread.â€
â€œSometimes a friend or an acquaintance would ask me to help them and slowly people began calling me. Sometimes I would get calls from people who got my number through someone. So, it just grew.â€
With the average cost of an Indian wedding in the USA being anywhere between $225,000 to $285,000 according to wedding planners there is a lot of scope for periphery services that are required in an Indian wedding.
Singh says that in the past he has also worked with wedding planners but he has now branched out and prefers to work individually as it gives him more space and freedom to be creative.
He also offers additional services like sourcing the safa or showcasing different styles of safa if the client demands.
â€œI have been a part of Indian weddings across faiths â€“ I have tied safas for Hindu weddings, Sikh weddings and Muslim weddings â€“ while a little bit style and preference may differ it is great to see that the tradition of safa is such a great unifier across cultures among Indians,â€ says Singh
Singhâ€™s label Chicago Saffa receives most calls during the summer months or the wedding season. In order to preserve the tradition, Singh says that he has kept his prices affordable so that more youngsters in America are encouraged to keep the tradition alive.