With just a day to go for the festival of lights, the ‘Swadeshi Deepawali’ call given by various organisations to discourage the Chinese products and buy earthen lamps and other products from local potters is yet to make an impact.
Potters are disappointed over the slump in sales this year and now they have pinned their hopes on the last- moment rush which might cover up their losses.
A visit to Ghumar Mandi, the most frequented market for Diwali shopping in Ludhiana, reveals that it is not that easy for local potters to defeat the Dragon in the sale of lights.
Most potters said that the sale was lower compared to last year and not even 50% of their products had been sold out.
Talking to Newsline, Mahesh Kalra, selling earthen lamps (diyas) for 20 years, said, “The sales are very low this year. Generally, four days before Diwali, people start thronging markets and we have to re-order lamps, earthen idols and garlands. But this time we will be happy if we sell first consignment itself.”
Sunder Lal, who makes pottery items himself in Chander Nagar, said, “Diyas cost us Rs 20 per dozen and we sell it for Rs 30 per dozen. In such small margins too, people try to bargain and this year sales are so low that we are giving it away for Rs 25 per dozen. If diyas are not painted and decorated, they are also going for Rs 15 per dozen which is really disappointing. Still, it is better to sell them for less margins than keeping the stock back.”
Retailers getting diyas from potters in wholesale also said that people try to bargain despite small margins. “We get pottery items in wholesale at Rs 1,200 per 1,000 lamps which costs around 80 paise per lamp and they are further sold at Rs 2 per lamp. Costs are not enough for both potters and us but still people try to bargain and this year sales are too low.”
Organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and BJP called for Swadeshi Deepawali this year to eliminate Chinese invasion and messages were spread through WhatsApp and Facebook to avoid buying Chinese lights.
Still, Chinese items are doing brisk business. Ankush Kumar, who has a stall of Chinese lamps which even had pictures of Indian gods like Laxmi, Ganesh and others, said, “These plastic lamps are being sold like hot cakes. We have sold hundreds of them in the last two days. They are priced at Rs 250 to Rs 15,000. We got them from Delhi. Wholesalers in Delhi imported them from China.”