PATACHARKUCHI, Oct 22 - With the annual Festival of Lights knocking on the door, the otherwise nondescript village of Dennartari (Charalpara), just 5 kms away from the headquarter town of Bajali subdivision in Barpeta district is agog with activity and wears a festive ambience as the villagers, including students, aged persons, men, women and even children have been working frenetically in their race to give final touches to the freshly-crafted earthen lamps.
It goes without saying that Diwali is literally incomplete without rows and rows of mustard oil-energised earthen lamps delicately placed on bamboo slivers sticking out of banana plantain in front of residential and commercial spaces.
At present the government has imposed restrictions on bursting of crackers beyond a particular decibel. Further, appeals have been made to enjoy the Festival of Lights meaningfully by lighting earthen lamps, thereby patronising the local potters and artisans.
As a matter of routine, a sizeable section of artisan families subsist from the proceeds that accumulate from the selling of these earthen lamps in the market. Mostly womenfolk are seen making these earthen lamps with special clay in miniature hand-operated potter wheels.
While a section of the women are busy in drying the freshly crafted earthen lamps in sunlight before the burning process, the others are engaged in baking the final product, while still others sell their produce in nearby markets. In other words, the entire manufacture process from beginning to finish is achieved through division of labour.
�We purchase the special clay popularly known as �Hira Mati� from Guwahati at the rate of Rs 5,000 per truck or Rs 3,000 per tractor. Before making any item, the earth is specially prepared and reduced to a semi-solid state from the original rock-like state.
�We have been making earthen pots in our village since the last 50 years as a matter of tradition. The juniors learn the tricks of the trade from the senior members,� informed Saraswati Paul, a woman of the village who was busy making earthen lamps during this Correspondent�s visit.
The womenfolk expressed their willingness to work with electrical implements in future in order to reduce the workload and gain on the speed front.
Munna Paul, a Higher Secondary student of Bhattadev University in Bajali, who too is busy making earthen lamps, informed this Correspondent that though they earn a meagre amount from the seasonal product, still all the family members willingly work with clay as they have a special attraction towards the Festival of Lights, besides being involved with the profession since childhood.
At a time when people are generally aware about the ill effects of plastic ware, the seasonal demand for earthen items is still strong among the local people. As the financial condition of the artisans is very poor, the families nevertheless hope to cash in on the festive occasions by selling their earthenware.