Amritsar, January 29
To uplift the existence of the Thathera community, which possessed traditional skill of making utensils, the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) has proposed the state government to release an economic package for them and make efforts to market their produce at national and international levels.
On January 3, Cabinet Minister Harbhajan Singh ETO had announced the government’s plans to develop the “Thathera Bazaar” located at Jandiala Guru in Amritsar as a heritage street. Under the project, the passages leading to the street would have traditional architecture worth Rs 7.15 crore. In addition to it, a matching heritage gate worth Rs 5.10 crore would also be set up.
Identified during the Maharaja Ranjit Singh era, the community had migrated from Gujranwala in Pakistan and established themselves at Bazaar Thatherian (market of the Thatheras), Gali Kashmirian, in Jandiala Guru.
While appreciating the move, Professor Dr Sukhdev Singh, Member, INTACH Governing Council, has written a note to the minister giving some practical suggestions that could help in survival of this dying heritage art.
Despite being recognised in the National List of Intangible Culture Heritage, 2020, and tagged by UNESCO as intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014, the community has been struggling for survival.
Dr Sukhdev, who has also authored the book, “Thatheras of Jandiala Guru: An Insight into the Culture, Craft and Community”, said it was a significant step to develop Thathera Bazaar keeping in view its heritage significance, yet until unless an exclusive financial package and trade incentives were provided, it would be hard to uplift the members of the community.
“The first and foremost step could be a GST (Goods and Services Tax) waiver on handmade copper, bronze and brass utensils made by Thathera craftsmen. Second, the old quota system of brass scrap that they procure from the Indian Army should be revived so that they should not have to compete in open auctions.