Mangalore octogenarian's crowning glory

Prabhakars petas are affordable and also easily available

The ‘peta’ (traditional headgear) worn by grooms in the Hindu wedding ceremonies, adding more elegance to the groom, has seen modification over the time.

Unlike earlier days, when there used to be a few ‘peta’ making experts whom the grooms contacted during the time of wedding, today the grooms do not seek the help of such experts, for readymade ‘Petas’ are available at affordable price in the cloth shops.     

With the readymade ‘petas’ ruling the market, the traditional ‘peta’ makers must have extinguished today, but 80-year-old Prabhakar Rao in Mannagudda still holds the charm of ‘peta’ making and is preferred by many grooms.

Hailing from the famous Rao family, one of the forerunners in Ganesha idol making in Mangalore, Prabhakar Rao learnt the art of ‘peta’ making from his father Mohan Rao who was an expert in making wedding ‘Petas’.

Handy skills

The 80-year-‘young’ Prabhakar Rao leaves no stone unturned as he quickly picks up a silk sari, twists and turns it and within no time the ‘peta’ would be ready.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Prabhakar Rao said that he learnt the art of ‘peta’ making from his father Lt Mohan Rao and has been preparing ‘petas’ for the grooms since 40 years. Though he has no counts of the ‘petas’ that have taken shape in his hands, he says he might have prepared ‘petas’ not less than 700 till date. “When I was young, I used to go to various parts of Karnataka including Bangalore and Mysore just to smarten the groom.

Invited to faraway places

I have dressed up the grooms from some of the famous families and people used to invite me from faraway places asking me to prepare ‘peta’ for them,” he recalls.

According to Rao, the art of ‘peta’ making is quite simple. The one who orders for the ‘peta’ should hand over a silk sari (colour of groom’s choice) to Rao and the elegant ‘peta’ stuck a pendant will be ready in half an hour.

Decorations

There have been several occasions, when ‘petas’ prepared by Rao have decorated heads of 10-15 members of the grooms family.

Rao stands apart from the rest, for he does not specify the amount for ‘peta’ making. “Whatever my customer gives, I take. I do not demand for money, as ‘Peta’ making is my passion,” he says.

This octogenarian still has the same enthusiasm to make ‘peta’ and decorate the grooms, but slight health anomalies are blocking his path from accepting too many offers.
He says, “at present I prepare ‘petas’ for the grooms from my family and friends circle as I cannot move to faraway places unlike earlier.”

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