Erratic weather hits lamp production in Tamil Nadu, artisans seek work area & warehouse

This year, while there has been little rain, the skies have been overcast and we were unable to dry the lamps. Many lamps have become brittle and were damaged while baking.
Image used for representational purposes only | U Rakesh Kumar
Image used for representational purposes only | U Rakesh Kumar

DHARMAPURI: Citing unpredictable weather conditions, artisans involved in the production of earthen lamps for Karthigai Deepam festival have appealed to the government to provide a designated warehouse to store the products and a designated work area to store their clay and protect it from the rain. Over 200 families across Adhiymankottai, Narthamapatti, Kambainallur, and Nallaparampatti are engaged in making Vinayagar statues, earthen pots, gollu dolls and lamps for Karthigai Deepam.

Rain and overcast weather conditions in the past few weeks have impacted production of lamps, and some artisans reported that production had dropped by over 50%. Speaking to TNIE, S Raja of Adhiyamankottai said, “Sunlight is the key ingredients of our trade. But this year, while there has been little rain, the skies have been overcast and we were unable to dry the lamps. Many lamps have become brittle and were damaged while baking. So our production has dipped by 50%. On average, per day, we can make as much as 1,000 lamps, but this year due to space constraints and poor climatic conditions. We were not able to make that much”.

Another artisan, V Iyyanar said, “ Usually most of us designate a room in our homes for production and storage. To aid people like us, if the government could provide a warehouse and a small workshop to protect our clay, we would be able to produce more. For each Karthigai lamp we make, we earn `1 and we get Rs 850 per 1,000 lamps wholesale. So a designated work area and warehouse to store our produce from the rain and overcast weather would greatly aid our production”.

I Venkatesan said, “The losses this year are massive, In the past four weeks we were only able to work for maybe five days. We have had orders from Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Bengaluru and other areas, but because of the weather, we are not able to provide them on time. Karthigai began last Friday, we are still involved in production”, he said.

When TNIE spoke to officials in the Dharmapuri administration they said, “We have not received any such request from the artisans, if they represent their demand in the form of a petition, we would look into the possibilities.”

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