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Earthen lamps on way to museum

T Chakraborty

Dewali, the festival of light is at the sight. After few days the whole country will observe this festival with lots of enthusiasm and fanfare. Ahead of this festival the picture of pottery locality is completely changed. The potters are very busy to make earthen lamps. In this occasion thousands and thousands of lamps illuminated across the country. For this reason they are overburden with the work more because this is the season they can earn a good profit.

This is not end of the story.

Nandan nagar, some 7 kilometer from Agartala city, is best known for its pottery. The families earn a living through pottery. Various clay modeling are made by them. One of them is Naresh Rudrapal, told pottery is their traditional way of earning. Their forefathers did and now they are walking in the same road. But their way is not covered with rose pastels. They are now facing huge problem and many of them left this artistic profession.

Naresh Rudrapal regretted many potter are now mere rickshaw pullers. They are not averse to an alternative way of earning for a living – be it odd labour job at a construction site.

Massive use of plastics has to be blamed for their plight. Today modern civilization very much depends on plastics and other ingredients. Nobody use potter or clay utensil these days, Naresh added. This is why clay artisans leave their traditional skill. Moreover young generation of the clay artisans is school goers. And they don’t want to continue their earnings with use of mud. “They are young generation is desperate to get a government job or a good alternative”, said Naresh Rudrapal.

Single earthen lamps cost 80 / 90 paisa. And if anyone buys a lot its cost come down to 55 / 60 paisa each. But candle sticks are cheaper than earthen lamps. Sabitri Rudra Pal, asked who will buy earthen lamp, its cost little more than the candle stick and it’s little difficult to handle?

Now various colors shapes and types of electric lights are in the market. These are even cheaper than candle sticks or earthen lamps. Every twenty-five electric lamps cost 25 to 50 rupees. The cost depends on their color, shapes or other decorative angle. Irrespective of age all people like these new lamps, thus earthen lamps lose their market and clay artisans are getting rid of their traditional profession.

Sukanta Rudrapal, a middle aged man was making earthen lamps on moving wheel. It’s nice to see, that one big wheel was moving with speed and two fingers of a clay artisan’s like to play with some mud and these mud takes various shapes.

Sukanta murmured earthen lamps will soon find a place in museum.