The bright light of 'diyas'

Dispelling gloom
Last Updated 30 October 2013, 14:19 IST

The festival of lights is incomplete without the diyas. These earthen lamps give true meaning to Deepavali.

During the season, one can find potters selling an array of earthen diyas in different corners of the City.

However, along with the simple, affordable and popular diyas, designer diyas and lamps of all colours, shapes and sizes have flooded the market. Some people also prefer to light candles in place of diyas.

Says Selvan, a potter in Banashankari, “Though we sell terracotta diyas, many customers come in asking for candles, which are shaped in the form of diyas. So this year, we have kept both varieties.” The cost of these varies from Rs 40 to Rs 250.

There are more economical diyas and one doesn’t need to compromise on the variety as there is something for everybody in the innumerable shops set up in places like Pottery Town, Commercial Street, or even the local markets in different areas.
While simple clay diyas can cost as less as Rs 20 or Rs 30 for a dozen, the fancier ones can go up to Rs 100 (a dozen) or more depending on the design and work on it. The markets are filled with fancy diyas, including ‘wind-proof’ diyas, water lamps and diyas shaped and carved intricately like a lantern.

For close to eleven years, Arun Kumar has been organising Deepothsav, an exhibition-cum-sale of diyas from across the country. One can not only find diyas made out of terracotta but also brass and fibre ones here.

 “In each part of the country, there is a special kind of diyas. We try to promote artisans from all over. The most popular ones are the Ganesha diyas and also the floating diyas. These lamps really help brighten the festival, and with so many people going the eco-friendly way, almost every family heads out to buy them,” says Arun.

If it’s about promoting artisans for some; for others, it’s about raising funds for a cause by selling lamps. Diya Foundation, a training centre-cum-sheltered workshop in Bangalore, encourages adults to contribute something of their own for the festive season every year.

This Deepavali, they have been involved in making a range of hand crafted products that include flavourful chocolates, fairy lamps, painted diyas, and scented candles that are customised and packaged to suit individual and corporate requirements. 

For some, the festivities begin with the purchasing of diyas. “It is the most important thing during Deepavali. I generally take the simple clay diyas to decorate the entire house. The fancy ones are kept only at important places like the doorstep and the puja room,” says Veena, a homemaker. The more creatively inclined are trying their hand at making their own personalised diyas.

Says artist Srinivas, who is running small workshops on making diyas, “Traditionally, one used to make one’s own diyas to decorate the houses, but now it’s no longer in practice. Fortunately, more people are coming forward and trying their hand at making them from scratch.”

Painting the lamps is also a popular trend that people are following these days. “Every year, we buy the earthen lamps from the market and then I sit and paint each one of them before the festival. I feel that this way, it not only adds to the beauty of the festival but it also allows one to bring in one’s own personal touch to it,” sums up Ramya, a student.

(Published 30 October 2013, 14:19 IST)

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