Broke clay pot sellers in Chennai carry a debt burden

A woman arranging pots at her shop on Kodambakkam High Road. File photo

A woman arranging pots at her shop on Kodambakkam High Road. File photo  

As lockdown has hit them hard this summer, they pin hopes on Ganesh Chathurthi

Fifty-three-year old A. Vadivel looks forward to the summer every year as this is the only time his pots sell like hot cakes and he sees some profit. This year over 500 pots that he ordered for now lie gathering dust. In addition to that he has a debt of ₹5 lakh as the shop remains shut owing to the lockdown.

“For generations, my family has been into this business. We invest physically and emotionally in this job. We don’t know how to do any other business. We feel burdened by debts and the uncertainty of not knowing when we can go back in business is pretty frustrating,” says Vadivel who has been selling pots in Kodambakkam for over three decades now.

On any day during the pre-COVID-19 times, a ride through many pockets of the city including Kodambakkam, Anna Nagar and Velachery would give one a striking glimpse of pots carefully stacked up in rows, jugs, terracotta wind chimes and brightly painted idols of various deities. These pockets now wear a dull and a lifeless look.

Pot sellers heavily rely on summer because different kinds of pots sell over a period of three months. Many of them have borrowed money and placed a huge order for sales in summer. A Ravishankar, who sells pots in Velachery, says he would make nearly ₹30,000-₹40,000 a month during summer; but that is all gone now. “After summer, we see some reasonable business during Ganesh Chathurthi, Diwali and Pongal. Now, we are now pinning hopes only on Ganesh Chathurthi so that we can at least partially repay some debts,” he adds.

Uma Saravanan, who runs a shop in Shenoy Nagar says, she is finding it hard to make ends meet without income and her savings are gradually getting depleted now. “We fervently hope that things begin to look better for Ganesh Chathurthi at least,” she adds.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 11:18:03 AM |

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