Diya sales up, pottery industry gets new lease of life in UP

Potters at Nandpur, a hamlet known as potters village, located near Chinhat in Lucknow, say they haven’t witnessed such demand for diyas in the past few decades
Potters in Uttar Pradesh say that the dying traditional pottery industry has got a new lease of life due to Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya. (HT Photo)
Potters in Uttar Pradesh say that the dying traditional pottery industry has got a new lease of life due to Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya. (HT Photo)
Updated on Nov 04, 2021 05:35 AM IST
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ByOliver Fredrick and Pawan Dixit

The smiles are broader at the houses of potters this Diwali and the lights seem to shine brighter. Driven by burgeoning government demand and mega events like the Deepotsav in Ayodhya, the sale of earthen diyas or lamps is expected to cross 10 million, a record.

The numbers represent a remarkable turnaround for the small-scale industry that was nearly driven out of the market by lights manufactured in China a few years ago. Compared to 2019, sales of diyas are up 50%, say industry associations.

“In 2020, around 200,000 to 250,000 diyas were sold in Ayodhya and its adjoining regions. This year, the sale has gone up to somewhere between 450,000 to 500,000 diyas,” said Jagat Prajapati, a local potter. For the Deepotsav celebrations at Ram Ki Paidi in Ayodhya where about 9 lakh lamps will be lit, diyas are largely sourced locally through a tender by the Ayodhya administration.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also plans to light 4.5 million diyas to reflect the number of beneficiaries of the Awaas Yojana, the government’s housing scheme. The administration also plans to buy another 3 million diyas to light the houses of party workers.

The government’s push has also boosted demand from ordinary citizens, who have ditched electronic lights for diyas to spruce up their home decoration on Diwali.

Potters at Nandpur, a hamlet with roughly 60 artisans near Lucknow,, say they haven’t witnessed such demand in decades.

“The Covid crisis badly affected all trades and pottery was no exception. In contrast to what was anticipated, the pottery business is doing well as the demand for earthenware, especially designer and wax diyas, is quite high this Diwali,” said Jafar Ali, a potter .

Another potter Afsar Alam, 33, said unlike previous years, when there used to be marginal or even no profit on Diwali, this time Nandpur has been witnessing long queues of retailers since Karva Chauth, which was celebrated on October 3.

“A majority of bulk buyers placed the orders for designer diyas,” said Alam, a traditional potter from Nandpur village. “In contrast to previous years, the sale of diyas has gone up. We used to sell 800 to 2,000 earthen lamps a day (including regular and designer ones), this year we have recorded the sale of around 3,000 to 4,500 diyas in a day.”

Around 135 km from the state capital, around 40 families of potters in Ayodhya’s Jaisinghpur are racing against time to meet orders.

“This Diwali, the sale of diyas has picked up as compared to last year when festivities were hit by the pandemic,” said Jagat Prajapati, a resident of Jaisinghpur.

At the core of this demand surge is the Deepotsav in Ayodhya. The state government also organises Deepotsav in around 217 places including 200 Nagar Palikas. “There is no doubt that the almost dying traditional pottery industry has got a new lease of life due to Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya,” Naresh Kumar, a potter said.

The Mati Kala Board set up by the state government in July 2018, the 2020“vocal for local” campaign and the department of micro, small and medium enterprises helped popularise diyas, said a state government official.

Additional chief secretary for home and religious endowment departments, Awanish Awasthi, said, “UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath first asked us to light 51,000 earthen lamps in 2017. This number has gone up to the lighting of nine lakh plus earthen lamps in 2021. The Deepotsav has given a push to Ayodhya’s economy with the number of pilgrims visiting the temple town going up manifold.”

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Thursday, January 20, 2022