Until a few years ago, hundreds of potters and their families would be overworked in the run up to Diwali, churning out tens of thousands of small and big clay lamps that would brighten innumerable homes and businesses.
The diya business has now sharply declined.
“There is a huge fall in the sale of diyas. For what is supposed to be a festival of lights, our life has entered a dark phase,” Harkishan, the head of Kumhar Gram, Delhi’s largest colony for potters, told media.
“Diwali has lost its traditional charm as Chinese products have taken over the Indian markets”.
“People are more interested in decorating their homes with Chinese lights or jelly candles rather than with the traditional diyas,” he said.
Harkishan, 60, who won the National Award for Terracotta art in 1990, is not the only one despairing.
Harkishan, who arrived in Kumhar Gram in 1971 from Haryana, said the latest products in markets had jolted their business. “Every year there is at least a 30 percent fall in sales”.
“Chinese products are choking our business,” he said, adding that today’s young ones may simply turn their back on diyas and other earthen products.
Krishna, 30, another potter, agreed.