Mumbai dabbawalas send 'Puneri Pagadi', traditional stole as gifts to King Charles ahead of his coronation

01:51 PM May 04, 2023 | PTI |

Mumbai: Mumbai’s famous dabbawalas have sent the traditional ‘Puneri Pagadi’ headgear and ‘Uparne’, a traditional stole, as special gifts to King Charles III ahead of his coronation ceremony in London on May 6.


‘Puneri Pagadi’ is a traditional headgear introduced in the 19th century and is considered a symbol of pride and honour in Maharashtra’s Pune city. ‘Uparne’ is a piece of fabric worn over shoulders by men during traditional ceremonies.

The dabbawalas operate a globally renowned lunchbox delivery and return system that supplies hot lunches from homes and restaurants to people at work.

Ramdas Karwande, president of the Mumbai Dabbawala Sanghatana, told PTI that this time they have not been invited for the coronation ceremony of the 74-year-old British monarch.

He said earlier this week, some of their office-bearers were invited by the British Deputy High Commission here for a function at the Taj Hotel, where they handed over the ‘Puneri Pagadi’ and ‘Uparne’ to authorities, who will ensure the gifts are delivered to King Charles.


He recalled that two members of the dabbawala association were invited at the royal wedding of then Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in London in April 2005. The dabbawalas had then sent a Maharashtrian turban and a nine-yard sari for them.

Karwande said this time, they were specially invited for the function at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai where they were felicitated and given special treatment.

“Nobody gave such an importance to the poor dabbawalas, but they invited and felicitated us. Our members were delighted and overwhelmed by the gesture,” he said while conveying good wishes to King Charles for his coronation.

Mumbai’s dabbawalas have a long association with the British royal family. During a visit to India in 2003, Prince Charles had met the dabbawalas and lauded their work acumen, accuracy and punctuality after being impressed by their work culture.

The dabbawalas take pride in their ‘timely delivery’ motto, irrespective of Mumbai’s heat or heavy rains.

In 1998, the Forbes magazine conducted an analysis and gave its ‘Six Sigma’ rating of efficiency to the 100-year-old business of dabbawalas.

Currently, more than 1,500 dabbawalas run tiffin delivery business in the metropolis. They deliver around two lakh tiffins to office-goers during working days.

The dabbawalas use suburban trains to ensure the lunch boxes reach their destination on time.

Most of the dabbawalas are from Maval area in western Maharashtra.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown, many of them shifted to their native places in Pune district.


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