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Not likely to be a Happy Diwali for the makers of Diwali Diyas: A visit to Kumhar Colony

A Diwali with social distancing is distancing the festivities from people, the business of potters at risk

A five-minute ride on a rickshaw from the Uttam Nagar East Metro Station, you may find the colony, whose every street and every corner is stacked with Dias, pots and other pottery items. Check out every street and any house of this colony, you will only and only find rooms filled with ‘mitte k bartan’, all ready to hit the local markets and streets. Every year, this quarter (October – December) appears to be the golden time when they get to have the maximum business of their production of Clay Items. But this year, we doubt if they will be able to get their stock sold.   “Every year, we wait for Diwali as it’s our happiest time but this year has been something else. A colony which has been long existing for more than three decades has not seen this low business. A resident of the colony showed us the stocks of mitti k karvahs used for Karva Chaut and said — “with no time for Chauth, they should have been sold completely by this time but are still there — unsold.”

With Diwali right about to come, and Diwali, as we all know is a festival of light and is most celebrated by Indias with lighting their houses with Dias and decorating their homes in different ways. But of course, we are living in 2020 with a pandemic, where we have to deal with the cautions of social distancing, festivities are not likely to be the same.

Where the celebration and joy of everyone will be somehow altered, the most hit of all will be the seasonal artisans and workers. “there have been no melas this year, no public gathering where people could go, buy stuff from their local markets. The patri walas have not been completely allowed to set up the stalls so, they are not purchasing the products, or purchasing in very less quality.”

Sharad, an artist at the Kumhar colony, discussing how has this year and the festival season been so far for them, said, “the early days of this year were adverse. Although I live here, many of the other artists in this colony are migrants. During the first half of this year, we definitely were in crisis as there was no work here and most of them had to go back to their home towns. But now, when they are back and the production is at its peak, we are uncertain, if we will be able to sell what we have produced till now.”Where the inclusion of electrical light diyas and ceramic and POP products have always been a threat to this community, people still prefer to choose the authenticity of clay pottery over others. But, this time, there is a fear in people with buying anything during COVID, which is not wrong but is hampering their business of these artists, in ways that can make it a not so happy Diwali for them.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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