As the call to boycott Chinese goods and lights this Diwali gathers pace on social media, the smile on the face of earthen lamp artisans of Malda is widening.
China’s support to Pakistan after the Uri attacks, apart from blocking move by India to designate Masood Azar, Jaish-e-Muhammed chief as global terrorist by the United Nations have spurred sections of the saffron camp and even individuals to raise a boycott call.
Recently, groups in Bengal have initiated a campaign to promote earthen diyas, apart from Viswa Hindu Parishad hitting the streets with calling for boycott of ‘made in China’ products, even planning to symbolically burn them.
Several posts are now on Facebook and Whatsapp calling for a boycott of Chinese lights and crackers this Diwali. A section of the people have responded to the call.
The earthen lamp artisans of Kumorpara under Chanchol sub-division of Malda have no time for rest. Almost 24X7 they are working to meet the demand of various kinds of lamps, pitchers and other things. They are hopeful this Diwali there will be a huge demand for earthen lamps. Also, a good number of artisans are finding interest in this job as state government is providing them allowance and loans.
The artisans said throughout the year they do different jobs. After Durga puja, they start making earthen lamps and other items. But over the last few years earthen lamps were not in great demand. But, they are hopeful this year they would make hefty profits selling the lamps.
Several hundred of such artisans stay at Shamsi, Debipur, Paharpur, Atgharah, Fatepur, Bhaluka and other villages under Chanchol sub-division of Malda.
Suraj Pal an artisan residing at Debipur village said, “During the Left Front regime, a number of artisans turned away from this profession. But we are getting loans to run our business now. So many youths have joined this profession.”
“Chinese lights are the biggest threats. If the people want, the sale of earthen lamps will definitely increase,” said Debu Pal a fellow artisan of the same village.
Interestingly, from decorative lights, lamps, gift items, pandal decoration, decorative cloths, artificial flowers used by households and community Puja organizers are all made in China.
Bengal and especially Kolkata has been for years flooded with Chinese imports from toys to household items, decorative items, ball bearings, pins and a host of other goods.
“Many have Facebook and Whatsapp accounts and we have seen the Chinese goods boycott call there. This year wholesalers are placing huge orders for earthen lamps. Every artisan is making 25,000-30,000 lamps. Besides this there is good demand of Panchapradip too. We are hopeful 100 pieces of small-sized earthen lamps will sell for Rs 70-80,” added Debu.
SDO (Chanchol) Puspak Roy said, “The state government is doing everything to increase demand for handcraft goods. Besides, we are also helping earthen artisans in all possible ways.”