Kajal Prajapati, a Class IX student of Kurouni village, has never been to Lucknow, which is just 18 km away. She hopes to become a teacher one day and visit the Uttar Pradesh capital. Her family makes clay toys like the other 40 to 50 ‘kumhaar’ families in the village, which are reeling under poverty, unemployment and uncertainty.
No matter how little it fetches, the ‘kumhaar’ families in Kurouni village gear up to make clay toys and idols soon after the monsoon. But nowadays there are hardly any takers for traditional clay toys as many other materials are available in the market.
Ram Babu Prajapati owns an acre of land. But he sows only a part it. “I don’t have money to cultivate the entire field. This much of paddy will not be sufficient for my family,” he says. Ram Babu is also physically unfit to take on a strenuous job. So to make ends meet, his wife and children are hurrying up to prepare clay idols before Diwali. “We get Rs.4,000-5,000 by selling the toys and it brings some joy to the family,” he says. Ravi Bhushan’s family is somewhat better off as most of the male members work as daily wage labourers while women and children make mud toys and idols.
Sixty-year-old Ram Avtar Prajapati, who has been in this trade for the last four decades, sees little future in the trade as there is no government support, but continues with it as it brings some extra money.
“Getting clay is a big deal nowadays. We don’t have any land and it gets tough for us when others don’t allow us to take clay from their land,” he says.