These lamp-makers live in darkness

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AT WORK: Sunitha making clay lamps in her house at the Kakkunje area in Udupi.
AT WORK: Sunitha making clay lamps in her house at the Kakkunje area in Udupi.

Staff Correspondent

Udupi: The people enjoy the Deepavali festival by lighting the clay lamps all around their houses, year after year. But, for the people involved in making these lamps, it is a hard grind even as they struggle from hand to mouth.

For instance, the family of Sanjeeva, comprising his wife Sharada, son Narayana and daughter-in-law Sunitha, live in a tiled house at the Kakkunje area in Udupi. The entire family is involved in the production of clay lamps. Says Sanjeeva, “My ancestors migrated from Andhra Pradesh to this place. We are the fourth generation. We have be traditionally engaged in making earthen lamps and pots.”

The family produces 20,000 earthen lamps a year. The production begins after the Krishna Janmashtami festival. It is not an easy task to produce these lamps, says Narayana and adds that they require clay, grass and four quintals of wood to make 20,000 lamps. “We buy a truck-load of clay. Although each load is supposed to have 200 baskets (“buttis”) of clay, we normally get 150 baskets from one load. However, we do not require the entire 150 baskets. We take a part of the clay for lamps and the rest is used for making earthen pots and other items,” he says. On the remuneration part, Narayana says, the family sells the lamps to a merchant in Udupi at Rs. 0.40 apiece. The merchant sells them at Rs.0.75 or Re. 1 apiece. Sanjeeva says” “We manage to break even and survive. It is enough for a livelihood.”




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