The excitement of getting a paper greeting card for New Year or Christmas has almost become a thing of the past thanks to the advent of technology. Paper card’s journey that started in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, a British Civil Servant, has almost come to an end amid technological chaos.
The words of Santosh Kumar Nandi, a senior postal assistant of General Post Office, Bhubaneswar validate the near death of nostalgic cards. “In last twenty years, there has been a drastic fall in the movement of paper greeting cards. Earlier, we used to receive sackful of cards every day from all corners of Odisha which now has reduced to less than a hundred. People now prefer to wish their near and dear ones on social media through various mobile apps,” says Nandi.
Udaynath Pradhan, who does seasonal business at Priyadarshini Market near CRPF Square in Bhubaneswar, also echoes the similar sentiment. He rues, “I have seen people queuing up at card shops when I was a kid. I also used to sell over a hundred cards per day when I started this seasonal business. The number has come down to a miserable 15 to 20.”
Earlier, the market was flooded with wide varieties of greeting cards that caught customers’ fancy. Besides, greeting cards bore a stamp of closeness and warmth when given to special people on special occasions, hence, were in great demand in the past.
Recalling those nostalgic days, poetess Bijayalaxmi Parida, says, “Of late, e-cards have become quite popular among the youths. But the joy of getting greeting cards cannot be compared with e-cards. I still have some greeting cards received from my relatives and friends. I have treasured and preserved them for years.”
Sharing her most cherished greeting card memory, she shares, “When I was studying in Rama Devi Women’s College (now a university), I received a card from an unknown sender. It was perhaps delivered to me wrongly. A little girl, in this New Year card, asked her aunty to buy her a pink hair clip and a drawing book. I received the card December 24 and couldn’t sleep that night thinking about the girl. The next day I bought her gifts and sent them via courier to the address mentioned in the letter. That card is still with me. I will cherish that experience forever.”
Like Bijayalaxmi, renowned singer Abhijeet Mishra too has some interesting memories about greeting cards to share. He recalls, “My friend Sukant (name changed) used to buy greeting cards in loads. During those times, we were crazy to buy New Year cards. They came mostly in the size of postcards having images of film actors and actresses. When I was studying in Class VI, my friend took me to a card shop. The vendor had some vision problems. Taking advantage of it, Sukant picked up a few cards stealthily though I asked him not to do so. He took four pieces of postcards paying for only two. However, that didn’t escape the attention of the shop owner. No wonder, the shopkeeper screamed at Sukant after recovering the cards from his pocket. I felt bad for him while Sukant promised that day not to do it again in future.”
While many people prefer to buy printing greeting cards, some are there who don’t buy them. They rather make their personalised cards using drawings and scribbles. The practice seems to be a dying art now.
Bhubaneswar-based popular TV anchor Riya and her sister are among them who make personalised greeting card. Riya says, “In today’s fast-paced and digital world where most people prefer to have paperless communication, I can’t wait to receive the handcrafted card from Diya. My sister and I are twins and we share a strong bond. Be it New Year or any other occasion, I do something unique to make her happy. When in Balasore, we used to exchange hand-made cards to wish each other on New Year’s day. I started making cards out of a desire to create things using quirky objects. Diya has preserved all the handmade cards gifted by me.”
Greeting cards, at times, bring with them their share of complications for some people like actress Sthita Pragnya who is bracing up for the release of her movie Sabu E Love Pain. She says, “When I was studying in schools at Rayagada, I used to get more than a hundred cards during New Year from anonymous senders. Sometimes it created problems for me. Though my father was okay with it, mom asked me hundreds of questions about the senders and reprimanded to stay away from them.”
Greeting cards often make people travel down the memory lanes. Abhinash Patnaik, sharing an interesting anecdote, narrates, “During my college days, I once found a key chain of Donald Duck hanging in front of my bike when I returned home. The next day I found a card lying on my bike. I found a few lines -Open with smile because a smiling face suits you. Your smile is just like Donald Duck. Keep smiling and achieve the pinnacle of success – were written on it. Gradually, it became a regular affair for me to get gifts. On New Year, the unidentified person too sent me cards with some motivational lines. I tried to find out the sender but in vain. After coming out from college, I got to know that it was a junior who used to send me gifts and cards since she had developed feelings for me. But it was a one-sided thing. ”
Avinash continues: “I used to be a huge fan of Hrithik Roshan and Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio. During my school days I used to buy lots of postcard greetings of Hrithik and Leonardo. I have those greetings and posters with me even now.”
History of greeting card
The custom of sending greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages of good will to celebrate the New Year, and to the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on papyrus scrolls. By the early 15th century, handmade paper greeting cards were being exchanged in Europe. The Germans are known to have printed New Year’s greetings from woodcuts as early as 1400.
But it was Sir Henry Cole, a British civil servant and inventor who facilitated many innovations in commerce and education in the 19th century in the United Kingdom, is credited with devising the concept of sending greetings cards at Christmas time, introducing the world’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843.
Rashmi Rekha Das,OP
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