Dimming prospects as clay lamps lose shine
By M.T. Yogesh Kumar
Deepavali festival, which is synonymous with lamps, is incomplete without clay-made lamps crafted from the deft hands of potters at Doora village in Mysuru taluk.
However, like every other traditional occupation that is on the brink of uncertainty with the challenges posed by modern wares, pottery is also facing a threat with metal-made wares and other cheaper varieties in attractive designs being the pick of many in the market.
The potters community in Doora alone who were supplying not less than two lakh lamps during Deepavali to several parts of Mysuru and surrounding districts claim to have suffered a setback especially after the Central Government launched ‘Make in India’ scheme to encourage manufacturing of various products within the country.
Owing to the fall in demand, about 60,000 lamps are supplied to the market this time, with Deepavali festival starting with Naraka Chaturdashi today and culminating with Balipadyami on Nov. 14.
With the dwindling demand, traditional lamp makers also feel a deprived lot, but still prefer to turn the wheel positioning the clay, to keep the hearth burning, with no other option left to eke out a living. As the people in this modern age look for moulded lamps with exotic designs to add elements of elegance to the interior of their houses, spending several hundreds of rupees apiece, the clay-made wares though available at a measly price of Rs.1.50 to Rs. 2 have fallen out of demand.
About 50 potters from 14 families in Doora village have been involved in this traditional occupation from the last 17 years. As some of the potters started to scout for alternative occupation, with pottery not much financially rewarding, they came together to form Kumbara Kushala Kaigarika Sahakara Sangha (Potters Industrial Cooperative Society) and obtained a loan from Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
They all continue with their occupation by building sheds on the plot donated by the community heads. The wholesale prices of small size lamps are in the range of Rs. 1.50 to Rs. 2.50, big size lamps – Rs. 6 to Rs. 8 and Ayyappa Swamy lamps Rs. 10 to Rs. 15.
This year, about 50,000 to 60,000 lamps are supplied to the markets in various parts of Mysuru including the city and temple town Nanjangud, Gundlupet and Chamarajanagar district. When compared to the demand in previous years, it has come down to 1/4th of two to three lakh lamps they were supplying to the market in earlier years.
Govindaraju, a potter who is also a member of Kumbara Kushala Kaigarika Sahakara Sangha (Potters Industrial Cooperative Society), said: “Earlier there were about more than 50 families that were dependent on pottery which has come down to 14 now. Barring Deepavali festival season when the lamps are in demand, we make flower pots, tulsi katte, dhoopada arati, table vase and several other products in clay, during the remaining parts of the year. The Government should ban import and sale of moulded lamps, which has affected the traditional occupation. Unlike moulded lamps, the clay lamps are environmentally friendly without using any paint. They are hardened in the heat of the furnace using firewood.”