Even as the potters in Thanjavur are busy making clay pots for Pongal, brass utensil manufacturing units at Kumbakonam are busy rolling out vessels of different sizes for the festival. People use both clay pots and brass vessels for cooking pongal.
The temple town of Kumbakonam is well-known for its brass vessels and the nearby towns such as Nachiyarkoil are known for producing puja articles, including wick lamps. There are nearly 30 to 40 small brass vessels making units in Kumbakonam. V.Ramalingam, president, Kumbakonam Brass Vessels Traders Association, told The Hindu that two types of brass metal sheets are used for producing vessels. One is commercial sheet and another is shining sheet. Vessels produced using shining sheet is priced at Rs.650 per kilo while those produced using commercial sheets are priced at Rs.550 per kilo. "We produce five types of vessels for sale as people use different kinds of vessels. The vessels are mostly handmade except for the small machines used for rotating and turning. Typically, each vessel contains three parts – neck, circle at the bottom, and pot portion in the middle. Lead coating is used on the inside as people prefer lead-coated vessels for cooking.
The vessels have good demand in southern districts up to Tirunelveli as they are traditionally used for Pongal by those people. This year the sale has been dull but we expect it to pick up ," Mr.Ramalingam said.
Each production unit employs 10 to 20 labourers. V.Satyaranarayana of All Traders Association of Kumbakonam said that these manufacturing units must be exempted from Value Added Tax of five per cent as they are facing tough competition from the big manufacturers of north India.