As protests against Chinese products are rising across the country, hundreds of traditional potters in Indore are anticipating a bright Diwali this time vis-a-vis previous occasions.
Hundreds of earthenware-makers in the city are looking forward to higher sale of festival diyas that had in recent years been facing stiff competition from cheaper variants manufactured in China. Those electric diyas, along with factory-produced wax candles, had been increasingly catching the fancy of local population, much to the misery of local potters.
This time, though, is a pan-India movement against buying Chinese goods. The boycott is gaining momentum after the September 18 Uri army camp attack by terrorists from Pakistan—a country that Beijing continues to support.
The trend, local potters believe, will improve their business that had slid, forcing many to shift to other vocations or take up additional jobs to supplement incomes.
Artisan Lekhram Kashyap of Kumharkhadi that is famous for pottery and brick industry is busy making diyas and gawalan (holy dolls for puja) for the upcoming festival of lights.
“It is time to earn the extra buck,” says the 38-year-old worker, sitting in front of his modest house at Kumharkheri and also making ‘hathi-godha’ pairs of clay elephant and horses usually placed with the holy doll.
“We are anticipating brisk business, thanks to the boycott calls on Chinese products,” he adds. “Many of solely depend on pottery for livelihood.”
Kashyap is among the very few in full-time Kumharkhadi potters who keep the tradition alive in the hope that earthen lamps and allied clay goods will make a comeback.
Madhav Prajapat, 45, another local potter, says his area had, at one time not long ago, 250-plus families into pottery. “Today, there are only 25 of them,” he adds, attributing the shrinkage to huge influx of Chinese products. “This year, the situation is a bit different. Several wholesalers otherwise involved in Chinese-goods business have approached us to purchase diyas and other items we make.”
Prajapat says he and fellow potters prefer to now sell items directly to buyers. “Let everyone enjoy their Diwali.”
Many potters accuse the state government of apathy in letting the state’s pottery languish.
One among them, Kailash Kashyap, finds it an anomaly that the government invites big industries to increase employment opportunity, but leaves indigenous arts unattended. “The administration needs to pay special attention in enabling us to keep our tradition alive,” says the 59-year-old artisan.