Got ‘Hanathe’! Five Families locally make 20,000 Earthen Lamps for Diwali
Five Families originally from Andhra Pradesh, now residing at Subraya Compound near Marigudi Temple make 50,000 ‘Hanathe‘ (Earthen lamps) a year, of which 20,000 are exclusively made for Diwali.
Mangaluru: It’s that time of the year again, when you need to spruce your home, make it bright and colorful and welcome Goddess Laxmi to your home. Yes, the most awaited festival of Indians, the festival of lights is just round the corner. Diwali has always been a special day for all Hindus spread all across the globe and is celebrated worldwide with great pomp and enthusiasm. Since time immemorial, this festival is celebrated by lighting earthen diyas, locally called as ‘hanathe’ all across the home and the courtyard. But, in the last few years, it has been seen that people are celebrating Diwali by lighting electric lights and lamps and the tradition of lighting diyas has slowly been fading. But there is nothing like the light of a diya, dispelling the darkness of ignorance.
No doubt, the Chinese market of lights and crackers has flooded into the retail markets. The LED and Chinese lights are cheap, colourful and bright and are available in variety of styles and designs. The clay lamps, especially, the designer ones, are comparatively expensive. The electric bulbs are available between Rs 100 and Rs 500 per 20-piece pack. These are also available in shapes of big and small diyas. The colorful Chinese lights are cheap and you get a wide variety to choose from. A 5-metre string costs just Rs 25-30. So by spending a mere Rs. 500, you can get enough strings to illuminate your homes. On the other hand, for many, burning clay lamps is cumbersome as well as expensive. You have to fill it with oil, place wicks properly and then light them. This takes time. Plus, both oil and the diyas are expensive. That is why; lights have replaced the traditional diya lighting.
But to keep the decades old tradition, where earthen Diyas that Glow Dispel Lights and Divinity, a few local potters and craftsmen and artisans get busy with making lamps and diyas. Otherwise, for the rest of the year, they are busy in making ‘earthen water jugs or earthen teacups. There has also been rise in the cost of clay used in making the pottery. Even then, potters start preparing well before in time by casting and firing their wares and start spinning the wheels to create the earthen lamps for Diwali. Festivals are the times when they look forward to as they can earn more than what they actually earn. Unfortunately, this was the not the case in the last few years as people opted for electric lights said one of the potters here. With the emergence of Mall culture, people were also more keen to buy these stuff from sophisticated malls and retails stores at double the price.
But thanks to Modi’s “Make in India” campaign, earthen diyas are reviving- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to all Indians that they should buy earthen diyas from shops who sell them and from the street sellers instead of going to malls. With Narendra Modi’s insistence on “Make in India”, a few families of potters residing in Subraya Compound behind Marigudi Temple , near Urwa Market have been busy making of earthen diyas in varied shapes, sizes, colors and designs. Also the traditional art of making earthen “diyas” is witnessing a revival this year as people are becoming environment-friendly and are willing to illuminate their homes in a traditional way.
Even fancy and artificial diyas are available in the market, nothing can replace the divine light of a lamp. That simple brown clay diya holds a great significance and lighting of an earthen diya marks the commencement of something auspicious in our lives. Earthen lamps add a unique glitter and charm to the houses. The potters weave their own magic in the small colorful lamps and the flickering flame is simply enchanting. Team Mangalorean met these five families, originally from Andhra Pradesh, but have been residing near Marigudi Temple since decades, engaging themselves in pottery work.
During the time of Diwali, these family members are very busy in order to to supply the desired amount of Diyas required by their regular merchants. Their workload also increases on these families, but they have managed to supply the required amount of Diyas to their customers every year for the past seven to eight decades. With their great great grandpa Subraya died in the year 1995, these family members still continue in his footsteps in making pottery. Decades ago there were fifteen families in this Subraya Compound, all of them engaged in pottery making-but as the demand for pottery items crashed down, many of these families moved out and got into different art.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Rajesh, one of the pottery maker said, ” Yearly we produce around 50,000 earthen lamps, of which about about 20,000 would be exclusively for Diwali season. We supply our products not only to Mangaluru, but also to Mysuru, Madikeri, Udupi and the surrounding areas. Since there are not many potters in Mangaluru, we get huge orders, but we always deliver our items in time. The clay for these earthen cutlery are transported from Kinnigoli, Polali and Pakshikere. Although pottery work is not an easy job, it is intensive, where we have to crush the red soil, make the perfect design and then bake on the traditional oven. But at the same time, the reward too is decent enabling us to lead a content life. And also that we continue the tradition started by our grandfather decades ago”
Not just earthen diyas, these families also make ‘kumbha’, ‘kalasha’ and other small earthen utensils during the rest of the year. They even supply lots of these earthen utensils to the nearby temple and other temples. Apart from their pottery work, they also get themselves involved in the Marigudi temple festivities and activities. Even though they originally hailed from Andhra Pradesh, they communicate with Kudla people in Kannada and Tulu, but among themselves they converse in their mother-tongue, Telugu.
The charge for 100 diyas is Rs 150, and a Earthen water jug is sold at Rs 150, much cheaper than you buy at local shops. So while these families are trying to keep the tradition of Diwali, let us illuminate the lives of these common people who wait eagerly for this time of the year to earn their bread. So, this Diwali, pledge to light clay lamps around the house, that is natural and beautiful, and help our local potters who want to keep Diwali more traditional, than illuminating artificial lamps. Happy Diwali, to you all!