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Traditional clay diya’s are an integral part of Diwal but local potters are not optimistic about good business this time, reports Bhiva P Parab

Traditional lamp makers look at dim sales 

The festival of lights, Diwali is fast approaching and the people are eagerly waiting for the special festival which is the favorite of many. Clay diya’s are an integral part of the festival with several residents believing in placing earthen diya’s on the doorstep and window sills.

Usually sales of earthen diyas booms during the festival, however, the local potters are not optimistic about the good business as the market is being encroached by outside sellers. With stiff competition from diya’s made in neighboring states local artisans hardly get any business.

“Most of the clay lamps in the market come from places like Sawantawadi in Maharashtra and Khanapur in Karnataka and over the years the Goan market is captured by the outside clay lamps. Local artists are not getting enough business and we have reduced making of lamps,” said a potter from Ibrampur – Pernem taluka.

Ajit Shetkar.Shetkar went on to say that, now I make clay lamps for only our village temple and if someone places order then only I do make the lamps for that customer. However I don’t make surplus lamps to be sold in the local markets. The earthen diyas made by local potters are priced at around Rs three, Rs five or Rs 10 per piece depending upon the size. While a dozen is sold at around Rs 30, Rs 50 or Rs 100. The decorated coloured diyas are priced at Rs 100 for four pieces. Between vendors prizes differ according to the size , colour and design.

.A common grievance of the potters is that there is no space to sell their products and they are at the mercy of contractors who purchase at throw-away prices leaving them with very little margin. Besides most of the vendors buy the clay lamps from outside the state, especially from the border villages of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Most of the times the quality of outside lamps is not as good as those which are made in Goa but the price is less so vendors make more profit.

Another potter who makes earthen lamps for sale during the Diwali festival says that, the market is good for earthen lamps during the festival of lights, however with competition from outside products currently only handful of local artists are in the profession.

“I love clay work from my childhood and I am in this profession for last several years and I feel that more youth should come forward to do this work, which could make them self employed,” he said.

A potter said that, today it becomes difficult to find youth having knowledge of the pottery and some youngsters feel that they are educated and the work is not suitable for them.  According to the information available from the potters, the investment in the business is only of raw material, viz. clay and hard work. “If clay work taken up seriously one can sustain livelihood from sales of clay products,” felt a potter.

Watching the making of earthen lamps is fascinating. First the clay is put on the pottery wheel and then a clay cylinder is prepared using pottery wheel and then one by one the lamp is prepared. The unfinished lamps have to be dried for around half a day, according to the information available from potters.

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