Cotton Quilts, pine nuts, peanuts (Razai, chilgoza, moongphali) and folk tales of nano dado.
Oh, a lot of memories flooded back when I slipped inside my maroon velvet quilt. A home to the inception of various stories and articles. The coziness, fluffiness and warmth of razai while holding a cup of coffee or tea and childhood canopy for inhaling steam to combat the flu during winter. I still remember an amusing competition among cousins that the one with a bigger heap of peanuts shells would be a winner; and pine nuts were part and parcel of our dry fruit basket.
We watched horror plays while huddling together for warmth under razai and the slightest sound outside sent shivers down our spines. The rustling of tree branches during those stormy winter nights forced us to pull our quilts tightly around our bodies, leaving only a small opening to peep out for a breath of air.
The art of quilt making
In the old days in Punjab (Pakistan), an expert was invited to prepare quilts and he would use painja (an instrument to make cotton fluffy) and iron wire to fill quilts and stitch them also. Old rags were also used by women to stitch beautiful quilt covers.
Nowadays, women along with the helpers wash quilt covers after winters and then cotton quilts are sent to chaki waals (for dhunai or beating cotton in a razai) to make them fluffy, and re-stitch. Cotton quilts are also great hypoallergenic (little likelihood of causing an allergic response) option.
A few who own cotton farms or can manage to buy desi cotton from their acquaintances prefer to hire a worker to prepare a beautiful cotton quilt at home. The quilt covers vary from velvet to cotton depending on the taste of people. For dowry, expensive quilt covers are preferred.
Our grandmothers or great-great-grandmothers took pride in giving quite a number of desi cotton quilts to their daughters in dowry. In those days, charpai (a traditional woven bed used across Pakistan) or single beds were covered with daari, then a layer of thin cotton-filled mattress, and finally adorned with clean chaddar. As the material comforts increase, those customs have now almost disappeared from the cities.
With the passage of time, women have started using separate covers like duvet covers for the quilt to avoid the cumbersome task of cleansing the quilts after winters. Due to fast-paced lifestyle, people have started preferring polyester quilts because they are easy to care for.
Bask in the warmth of quilt
However, those who want to bask in the warmth of quilt, they still prefer cotton quilts as they recirculate your body heat and it remains trapped there for a long time. When you first move inside the clammy razai, you get a sudden jolt of icy sensation, then after a while you are provided with comfort and warmth. An addiction to cotton quilt has no comparison to its competitors like blankets and polyester quilts. But over time, its adversaries have gained hegemony over it.