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From a Wedlocked Damsel to Bridal Designer

The news of having been chosen for Padama Shri, country’s fourth-highest civilian award was no less than a sensation to Octonenerian Hanjabam Radhe Devi. Hailing from a small town Wangjing Sorokhaibam Leikai in Manipur, married at a delicate age of 15, she defied all the odds to become a traditional Bridal Wear designer (Potloi Setpi).

She has lost the count of the number of brides dressed by her ever since she took up bridalwear designing as a profession at the age of 25. Married in her green age and toiling fingers to bone in household chore, she was having a tough time earning her keep in her early twenties on a meagre wages of husband.

It is only through her unwavering determination and faith she could manage to transform the thrills of her girlhood dream of becoming a fashion designer into reality.

She inherited the art of making potloi from her Mother who is locally known as Abok Radhe (grandma).Potloi is the wedding dress of Manipuri brides. It is a cylindrical skirt usually comes in red, pink and green colours. The skirt is adorned with traditional motifs and worn with a shawl known as innaphi and a blouse made of rich fabrics. The cylindrical skirt is attached to the belt.

As its a labour intensive craft which may take one to many weeks in accomplishment, she has to stitch several layers of clothes which are then dipped in rice starch and left to dry in the sun for several days,she earns anywhere between Rs10,000 to Rs15,000, per Potloi, during peak wedding season.

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