JAGATSINGHPUR: Festival of lights is round the corner and the demand of diyas has reached its peak. But potters of Lunakua village in Kujang block have little to cheer. With cheap and fancy plastic and Chinese diyas flooding the market, traditional earthen lamps have fallen out of favour among Diwali shoppers.
As many as 117 potter families of Lunakua, who make earthen lamps, are struggling to sell their wares because of the high demand of Chinese and plastic diyas. “The traditional earthen lamps are losing their sheen in the face of stiff competition from Chinese dazzling lights. People prefer these lights as they are cheap and easy to use besides glowing throughout the night,” said potter Malati Dei.
Ahead of Diwali every year, the potters come up with different kinds of diyas such as Bohu, Sakhi, Suryamukhi and Golei. The cost of each diya varies from `2 to `50 as per the size and design.
“Earlier, we used to sell Bohu and Sakhi diyas at `25 to `30 and the smaller ones at `1 to `2. The income from selling diyas during Diwali was enough to sustain our entire families throughout the year. But now, we are forced to sell these earthen lamps at half the price because people prefer electric lights and Chinese lamps,” said Malati.
While the traditional diyas have lost out to the Chinese lights here, their demand continues to remain high in Karnataka, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and other important cities across the country with businessmen procuring the earthen lamps from rural areas in bulk, she said.
Malati said, “Despite the stiff competition, we continue to make terracotta diyas which are attractive. Though these decorative diyas are costly, many people still prefer them instead of lights during the festival.” While male members of a potter family engage themselves in preparing the clay and subsequently, diyas, the womenfolk burn these on furnace and colour them. Sometimes children also lend a helping hand to finish the job quickly, she informed.
Another potter Niranjan Behera said with the invasion of plastic and Chinese products, many diya makers have stopped to making earthen lamps. While some are working as daily labourers, others have migrated to other States in search of better livelihood options. “This year, my family has crafted only 1,000 diyas and though the number is less, we are worried that even these might not get sold,” he added.
Head of the District Supply and Marketing Society Satyasunder Sibram Paital said the District Rural Development Agency is providing financial assistance to women potters to promote this traditional art.