It started in Patiala state of Punjab in India. Patiala rose to prominence amongst many princely states of Punjab before independence. Phul means flowers and Kar means the work. So Phulkari literally means Flower Work on the rough heavy cotton.
Throughout the Punjab, in the Hindu,Muslim and Sikh communities alike, women embroider Odhanis (veils) or Chaddar (wraps) ornamented with Phulkar, literally “flower work” and Bagh, garden, a variation where the embroidery completely covers the support material.
The support fabric is most often an auspicious dark red, or more rarely, an indigo blue or a white reserved for elderly women, on which the embroidery is executed in untwisted floss silk called pat, sourced from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal and dyed yellow, orange, burgundy, bright pink, purple, blue and green in Amritsar and Jammu.
Darning stitch is used to embroider from the reverse side of the fabric, with the longer float on the face, thus allowing large surfaces to be densely embroidered with economy. Aside from their everyday use as veils, the Phulkari is integrated into the lives of the women. and is an indispensable element in ceremonies, especially those concerning birth,death and marriage.
When a girl child is born, the women of the family organize a great feast, marking the beginning of the task of the child`s grandmother in creating the future bride`s trousseau. The most significant items of the trousseau are the chope, a reversible Phulkari worked double running stitch and wrapped around the bride after the ritual bath two days before the wedding, and the suber phulkari, composed of five eight petaled lotuses, worn by the bride when she walks around the sacred fire during the wedding ceremony.
A phulkari is also worn 11 days after the birth of a son, when the mother goes out for the first time after delivery, and when visiting a temple during religious festivals to request prosperity and happiness for loved ones.