DILIP PATIL grew up watching his father make a kandeel (lantern) at home every Diwali. Patil’s father, who worked in a textile mill, would make a kandeel from scratch, making its wooden frame, sticking paper on it and preparing it to be propped up outside their house every year. It was this tradition that first got Patil interested in kandeels.
Four years ago, the 55-year old Kandivali resident, decided to make kandeels to earn some extra money to support his family. During the festival of lights, Patil makes traditional paper lanterns with tassel-like strands of paper, among other types of lanterns, hoping they will adorn balconies, windows and corridors of the myriad of homes in the city.
From having made 11 kandeels in his first year to over 150 this time, Patil, along with his wife Damini and two children, Kadambari and Vaibhav, start work for Diwali over a month in advance. After finishing his day job as a diamond cutter, Patil returns home by 7 pm and works on the paper lanterns till 11 pm.
“First, I have to make the wooden structure of the kandeel. That requires some carpentry. Once it is done, we stick paper on it depending on the size and the requirement of the customer. Many buy plastic kandeels or other varieties of lanterns available in the market but the demand for traditional paper lanterns we make also remains,” Patil says. With each kandeel taking up over three hours to make, each of them are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 800 and they are displayed outside their home or the details are posted on social media for acquaintances to see.
This year, evening showers in the city played a dampener, Patil says. “We could only sell 60 of the 150 lanterns we made as we could not display them outside. I eventually sent my son to the market with a few kandeels hoping to sell those there. He came back saying while he was embarrassed initially, 67 people came and inquired about the kandeels, appreciating their designs,” he said.
Patil said that he has experimented with the paper design and usually advices people about which kandeel to buy depending on where they want to hang it. “Those who live in chawls, I advise them to buy bigger, bright kandeels as they can be hung out on passageways lighting up an entire floor. Those who live in smaller flats can buy the smaller, dim ones,” he says.
He added that the wooden structure he makes can last for a decade. “Once you buy a kandeel, you would only need to change the paper each year. We also get requests for that,” he says. “Most people do not remove the kandeels till the next Diwali. I enjoy the work and it is nice to see the kandeels we have made brightly displayed in people’s homes.”