Patriot's pride in every stitch for decades- Meet capital's jhanda chacha

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  • Published 15.08.14

Abdul Sattar Choudhary (72), a five-year-old when India awoke to light and freedom on August 15, 1947, doesn’t remember if he waved a Tricolour back then. But destiny made him Ranchi’s jhanda chacha.

Tucked away in the old bylane Rangrez Gali, Upper Bazaar, in a warren of small shoe and garment shops, stationery stores, eateries, temples and mosque, is his small tailoring shop Kashish. And the shop’s main attraction or kashish is the Tricolour that the elderly man stitches so lovingly for at least four months a year before Independence Day and Republic Day.

“It’s been 40 years now that I am stitching the Tricolour,” Choudhary said proudly, referring to his sobriquet jhanda chacha.

Over these four decades, Choudhary said his black turned grey but his passion for the three colours — saffron, white and green — kept growing. “Stitching the national flag before Independence Day and Republic Day is an indescribable feeling,” he said.

“My national flags come in all sizes. They have huge demand among educational institutions, political parties and individuals who purchase in bulk,” he said.

The man who counts “many top politicians” among his clients also recounts that he presented a self-made Tricolour to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s.

“I met Rajivji in Delhi and gifted a hand-stitched national flag to him as my token of love and gratitude,” he smiled, talking about the good old days.

“As a child, I liked making the national flag with paper and colouring it. When I grew up, I started stitching cloth flags from my residence in Hindpiri and then moved to my shop here,” he said.

Asked what one average cloth flag cost when he started out, he stops to think. “One rupee, I think,” he said. “I used to stitch around 50 to 100 pieces only,” he said.

This year, he has stitched 20,000 national flags — in sizes 4ft by 6ft, 3ft by 4ft and 2ft by 3ft — as well as 500 Gandhi caps. “I have tried to keep the Tricolour affordable. The most expensive flag here comes for Rs 750, but it is very big,” he said.

Why does he work so hard? “It’s something I enjoy. And my five sons and grandchildren also like the festive air in the shop,” he smiled widely.

His modesty doesn’t permit him from saying that the demand for his flags is huge. “Chacha ka jawab nahin. Every year, during Independence Day and Republic Day I come all the way from Ramgarh to purchase his flags,” said customer Abhishek Sinha, a marketing executive.

“Ranchi apart, my stitched flags go to Ramgarh, Gumla, Lohardaga, Simdega, Bokaro and a few other places,” Choudhary said.

He has also moved on with the times, expanding his business by selling wristbands, badges and stickers with patriotic messages.

“My heart lies in stitching the Tricolour,” he added.

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