While Deepavali shoppers throng the shops in Arapalayam here, the crowds are distinctly absent at the non-descript outlets that sell earthenware pots, lamps and flower pots.

The earthen lamps (Agal Vilakku) light up homes during the Tamil festival of ‘Karthigai Deepam’, which follows Deepavali. “People have forgotten that Deepavali is the Festival of Lights. Over the years, it has become associated with new clothes and firecrackers,” notes a shopkeeper selling earthen lamps.

G. Karthikeyan, another earthenware seller, says he seldom sees people buying lamps for Deepavali. “Lighting lamps on Deepavali day is not common. But we expect good sales for Karthigai.”

But the practice of lighting lamps is gaining ground thanks to the new awareness around noise pollution and safety.

“In the last few days, representatives from a few schools bought lamps from us to celebrate Deepavali on their campuses,” Karthikeyan points out with satisfaction.

Another seller Saraswathi says migrants from other States regularly buy earthen lamps during Deepavali.

For the very few who celebrate the Festival of Lights with lamps, there is a variety to choose from. There are lamps with lacquer finish which come in different colours and intricate designs and appliqué work.

“If not for lighting their homes, people have begun to gift the lamps during the festival,” says K. Sivakumar who makes lamps out of wax at Idaikattur near Tirupachethi.

More In: Madurai