A group of students from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College (SBSC) took the initiative to raise awareness about the predicament of the potters or ‘kumhaars’ in the Chinese dominated market of India.
Dating back to the Indus valley civilisation, pottery in India was an iconic form of art, defining culture and creativity. Used for storage and containers in the early times, pottery in today’s age has transformed into decorative pieces of art. Mostly seen at plush exhibitions and art shows, this traditional form of art calls for recognition and revival.
Potters in India have definitely felt the blow, with sales of earthen diyas dwindling each year. Electronic diyas, LED lights, colorful bulbs have all replaced the indigenous ways of celebrating the festival. It is now a competition of consumption and display of wealth and status.
Going against this unpleasant shift, the students of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College have made a short video to raise awareness. The group interviewed an old woman who has been in the pottery profession for over 40 years and has witnessed the transformation of choices. “Each year turns bleaker and income falls to a new low,” said the potter. Struggling to make ends meet, the potters complain that people bargain with them and push to pay the lowest price possible but otherwise empty their pockets with no complains at malls and shops.
“Diwali and Dussehra are the only time in the year where these potters hope to earn for a few months of sustenance but with Chinese products impeding their sales, they feel more vulnerable,” said members of the group.
By purchasing the earthen diyas we are not only helping the potters earn their sustenance wage, but are also making an environmental and ecological difference. Made with clay and soil, the diyas are eco-friendly and disposable, completely miscible with the earth. Unlike the plastic and electronic waste generated each year with the use of plastic lights. Diwali in its spirit should be about collective happiness. This stands in contrast when our choices are bent towards making the rich even richer and the needy, poor.
With inputs from Yash Gupta
Image credits: Yash Gupta