For the past 40 years, she has been earning a livelihood by selling earthen oil lamps (diyas) at the Bijwara market, Sector 22. Now in her 80’s, Khajaani still sits at the same shop, but the number of customers had been dwindling.
The demand of traditional diyas has gone down drastically in the past few years because of fancy lights from China and Thailand flooding the city markets during festivities.
“Every year, there is a decline in the number of people buying diyas, as people prefer Chinese lights these days. Now, I sit here just to pass my time,” says Khajaani.
Veena Devi, one of the many poor potters who have got the short end of the stick, says: “Diyas are losing their sheen. How can we compete with the big shopkeepers?”
Veena, who has a variety of diyas ranging from `1 to `50, says she is unable to sell all of these and end up suffering losses.
While these potters are sitting idle, stalls selling artificial lights at the CII-Chandigarh fair are attracting a large number of people. Fancy lights in various shapes, colours and materials are available here.
Anna, a trader from Thailand, says: “We have a variety of artificial lights ranging from `250 to `650. We come here every year around Diwali as there is a good demand for our products that are made of polycarbonate and are washable.”
Not only at the CII fair, artificial lights are being sold like hot cakes across the city. “I prefer to buy lights instead of diyas because the former come in a variety of designs and colours. Who has the time to put oil in the diyas and illuminate them? It is easier to decorate our house with colourful lights,” says Abhimanyu, a city resident.