Diya makers of Dhubri
A woman selling her products. Image: Northeast Now

The festival of lights, Diwali, has always been known to be the festival of diyas (earthen pots).

However, with the onslaught of cheap and fancy plastic and Chinese lights has triggered a threat to traditional earthen pot makers.

The residents of Asharikandi of Dhubri district, well known as a ‘Potter’s Village’ and also famous as Terracotta village seems a worried lot, thanks to the use of plastic and other Chinese products that have taken away their source of income.

Also read: Assam: Barpeta village busy making earthen lamps ahead of Diwali

Badal Paul a local villager said, “The village is well known for its earthen lamps and various other products prepared by the residents.”

“The products are of huge demand in local market and across the state as well,” he added.

But, the mere popularity of being called a potter’s village does not help the villagers make both ends meet,” he also said echoing the voices of all villagers.

“With plastic and Chinese products gaining ground in towns and villages, the income size of the potters’ community has fallen drastically affecting their livelihood,” he lamented.

Villagers would get work orders all throughout the year.

But, Diwali would come as additional income bonus for the villagers.

The villagers used to work day and night and make beautiful products and sell in the market, said Paul.

However, things have changed drastically for the people now with the easy availability of plastics at cheaper rates.

The products face tough competition from colorful fancy and Chinese lamps that flood the markets now-a-days, smashing the little remaining hopes of the residents of earning few extra bucks during this festive season.

“We used to earn during Diwali season. However, plastic products have badly affected our livelihood. Whatever we earn from selling lamps and other earthen materials, fail to see us through a year, as it used to be in earlier days,” rued Sadhana Paul an earthen lamp maker.

“If my family members work for a whole day, 200-250 lamps are produced. But the ultimate result is that most of our products are remained unsold in markets due to Chinese and fancy lamps which are sold at comparatively less price,” she added.

“Even though our income has come down, we are keen to carry forward our family business and cannot give it up. A little assistance from the government would help us,” she also said.

Another villager Mahadev Paul said, “Businessmen across the State come to our village to buy lamps during this period.”

“But what they give in turn is far less than what we expect according to our time and labour,” he added.

The traditional potter makers have also been expressed their grave concern about the government poor policy towards the ban on plastic products and alleged each and every year during Diwali,the government announces to ban the plastic products and it still remains an hollow claim.

“All campaigns to curb usage of Chinese and plastic products have been largely ineffective. Season after season, we have seen customers increasingly opt for fancy Chinese lights over locally made Diyas. Diyas have just relegated to being a festive formality and the Chinese lights have taken over,” alleged Paul.

Mukesh Kr Singh

Mukesh Kr Singh is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dhubri. He can be reached at: mkdhubri@gmail.com

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