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Rain washes away potters’ chance for a bright Diwali

A gloomy Diwali looms over potters community in Vadodara in the wake of heavy rains that washed away clay mud.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara |
October 19, 2013 2:09:54 am

A gloomy Diwali looms over potters community in Vadodara in the wake of heavy rains that washed away clay mud. Kanubhai Prajapati makes over 5,000 earthen lamps every year. This year,however,he is not confident about making 1,000. Kanubhai is not alone. Over 20 families of potters in Fatehpura area share the same plight.

The week-long heavy rains that lashed the city until the second week of October washed away the clay mud that the Kumhar community brings in from various places across the state,especially from Rajkot and Chotila near Than. Until the second week of October,Kanubhai usually finishes making 2,500 big-sized earthen clay lanterns that contain a set of seven lamps. However,this season,Kanubhai has managed to make barely 450 pieces. “The mud is so loose because of the rains that it has been rendered almost useless. The constant rain has made the process of baking the clay difficult,” he says. Given the situation,the diyas which normally sell for about Rs 20 a dozen will cost more than double the price this time. The Kumhars,however,say that the traders will not raise the profit for the potters. “They will buy the pieces from us at the same rate and sell it for a higher price to the customers. Every year,they give us about Rs 10 for a dozen of diyas and sell it for about 20 a dozen. This year it is likely to be Rs 40,” says Kanubhai.

For potters,their livelihood of the entire year depends on the festive season that begins during Navratri,when earthen pots called garbhis are in demand. It is followed by small clay water pots for Karva Chauth and earthen lamps of various sizes for Diwali. The Navratri too,say potters,was not as profitable as every year. “We were not able to pull together the desired number of garbhis. The traders brought in the garbhis from other parts of the state as rains had created obstacles for us here,” says Kantibhai Prajapati. He is now making small clay lamps for Diwali and the traditional ‘karva’ or earthen pots for next week’s Karva Chauth festivities.

The potters are now drying the mud under the sun and putting together as much labour as they can. Traders,who purchase the clay ware from the potters,say they have no choice but to bring in more pieces from other parts of the country. “This year,we have placed orders with other potters from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh,” says a local trader. However,the prices of the lamps are all set to go up this Diwali. According to traders,about 25,000 earthen lamps have already been brought in the city from other parts of the country.

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