Their labour lights up city

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BANGALORE, October 27:  Chandrashekar has been a busy man over the past week. The 43-year-old is giving final touches to over 2,000 diyas he made in time for Deepavali.

At his workshop at Pottery Town in the city, you can see at least 50 varieties of diyas, in different shapes, sizes and colour, from simple mud ones to elaborately decorated lamps. The diyas are priced between Re. 1 and Rs. 150 each.

Proud of their designs, Mr. Chandrashekar and his wife C. Sumitra say they have adapted the latest trends and designs to make their products “sell”.

“The plain mud diyas are my favourite,” says Ms. Sumitra. “But we are forced to make the colourful and decorative diyas because of competition…Our diyas are even sold for a higher price at malls.”

Traditional skills

Mr. Chandrashekar, a third generation potter, has completed a diploma in pottery from the Central Village Pottery Institute, Khanapur, to fine tune his inherited skills.

Ms. Sumitra says their preparation for this year’s festival began soon after Deepavali last year, as the season fetches them a large chunk of their annual income.

However, laments potter S. Nanjundappa (73), “We are facing serious competition from machine-made diyas. There is no value left for our handmade diyas.”

Besides, he adds, potters are also finding it difficult to market their products.

Mud hard to come by

Mr. Nanjundappa, also an office-bearer of the Kumbara Karakushala Kaigarika Sahakara Sangha, describes pottery as an art practised by an “entire family”.

According to him, the 40 families in the area involved in the profession have been finding it difficult to procure mud.

“We have to buy mud from Chikkatirupati and Kolar as all the lakes in Bangalore have dried up or have been encroached upon,” he said.

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