Ahead of the royal wedding in Britain, Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas today indulged in a bit of shopping for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, buying a “pheta” (turban) for the groom and a saree for the bride. Taking a break from their routine of going around offices on cycles laden with lunch boxes, the dabbawalas went to a shop in Lalbaug area of central Mumbai and bought the traditional Maharashtrian Paithani saree for Meghan and the famous Kolhapuri “pheta”, which comes in a multitude of colors.
They chose a saffron-coloured one for the young prince, at whose father’s wedding, they were among the invitees. Harry (33), fifth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle (36) are set to exchange vows at the St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19.
The relationship of Mumbai’s dabbawalas and the royal family dates back to 2003, when Prince Charles had come on his maiden visit to Mumbai. He had then met the dabbawalas and had lauded their work acumen, accuracy and punctuality and was impressed with their work culture.
The royal family had sent an invite to the dabbawalas to attend the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in April 2005. “We brought traditional wedding presents for the royal couple today,” Subhash Talekar, spokesperson of the Mumbai Dabbawala Association said. “We are gifting a kurta-pyjama and headgear to Harry and the traditional nine-yard Paithani saree, mangalsutra and green glass bangles, considered auspicious for new brides, to Meghan,” Talekar said. To mark the wedding, dabbawalas will distribute sweets to the relatives of patients at some government-run hospitals in Mumbai.