With the festival of lights Deepavali fast approaching, Venugopal Kulal, a potter, is working tirelessly at Kana in Surathkal on the outskirts of the city to meet the demand for earthen lamps (Diyas).
Kulal’s hands and fingers move deftly to give shape to the earthen lamps and pots. Diyas and pots in varied shapes and sizes are spread all over his house and in the courtyard. He is into this business for the past 20 years. He is a graduate and was working elsewhere. But the interest in continuing the family profession made him return to the field.
Kulal told DH, “There is good demand for Diyas and earthen pots. The profit in this business is not much. But we are not incurring loss. All the Diyas and pots we make are sold in the market.”
“It is difficult to meet the demand for earthen pots, especially during Mosaru Kudike festival. I learnt this art of pottery from my father. Now, I make living solely with the help of pottery throughout the year. The demand for clay Diyas and pots are a standing testimony to the rich ancient profession,” he said.
He said he has never faced any major problem in his profession. Ganesha Chathurthi and Sri Krishna Janmasthami are good time to make good business as the sale of clay idols is highest. During Janmashtami, the clay products have high demand and fetch good price.
He said, “Further, all the pots that I prepare may not be useful after it is baked in fire. A few get damaged. The Diyas are sold in wholesale as well as in retail. In wholesale, I get Rs 1.60 per Diya while in retail I charge Rs 2 to Rs 2.50 per Diya. I sell my products at Mangaluru, Surathkal, Bajpe, Haleyangady and other places.”
The clay is procured from Ganjimutt, Pallipadi, Polali and Muthooru. “I get two loads of clay which is sufficient for my requirement for the entire year. Each load fetches Rs 15,000. However, I have to spend a lot on firewood. We need at least eight to 10 quintals of firewood for baking the pots made of one load of clay.”
“I prepare clay Diyas and pots all by myself. My mother was helping in the past. Now, she is old. My sister, who stays nearby, helps in making pots. I take the help of others for preparing the clay for making pots and Diyas,” Kulal said.