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Artisans from parts of state flock to city

Thursday, November 08, 2018
By Raju Vernekar

Regardless of Chinese lamps, beautifully painted traditional lamps, made of indigenous red and grey clay, are very much in demand and the streets of Mumbai are flooded with artisans, who have come to sell their products in Mumbai, from far away places in Maharashtra.  

These artisans and vendors, who hail from districts like Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nanded and other places have been camping in different nooks and corners of the city, selling their products. In fact some of the vendors are kin of some of the farmers, who have committed suicide. A majority of these vendors are women.

Along with earthen lamps, these artisans also sell rangoli and other decorative material at much cheaper rate. For example they have priced the earthen lamps at Rs 100 to Rs 125 per dozen, while similar lamps are sold for anything between Rs 200 to Rs 225 per dozen in stores and the stores offering goods online.

Some of the rangoli designs that are sold for Rs 180 to Rs 290 per set in the stores are available with these roadside vendors for Rs 120 to Rs 150. The rangoli colours are also available here at much cheaper rates.

Suman Shinde, who has come from Shirdi in Ahmednagar says that they prepare these lamps at own their own pottery in Shirdi. The profit margin is not much but the sale covers the cost. Besides, its a self-vocation instead of begging for jobs, she says.

Suman Kodande has come from Nanded to sell the lamps in Mumbai. Ironically some of these women vendors have come with babies in arms. The vendors reside in cramped places with their relatives, during their stay in Mumbai. Some of them have also been selling flowers, which off course they procure locally.

In the meanwhile, as usual, the potters at Kumbharwada in Dharavi, spread over 22 acre land, have continued to prepare lamps using traditional methods of preparing pottery with red and grey clay and bake the moulds in traditional kilns. They use waste forms and sheets of cardboards to light up the kilns. Usually they make earthen pots, bowls and flower vases. By a fair estimate cumulatively over two lakh earthen lamps are sold in Dharavi alone.

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