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Sharmili Mallick

Balasore: Apart from hosting a treasure trove of captivating arts & exciting crafts, Odisha is also home to a mosaic of talented and multifaceted artisans who won big pluadits for the State in the national and international podiums. Urmila Dehury of Kudhia village under Remuna block in Balasore district is one such talented artisan who is winning hearts for her hand-made clay conchs.

Conch forms inseparable part of the Hindu culture and can be found in every household as it is a sacred emblem of Lord Vishnu. As per popular belief, conchs are usually blown before the start of any puja or rituals to usher in positivity.

Unlike general conchs which are usually hard and brittle, Urmila makes conchs with clay which sounds as vibrant as the real shells. She wants the craft to get a wider recognition.

"I was suddenly attracted towards making the clay sankhas (conchs). If I get some help from the government or any other organisation, I can prove myself in national and international forums too," said Urmila Dehury.

Urmila makes some 10-12 pieces of clay conchs in a day and sells them at Rs 100 per piece. While preparing a conch, she first tests the half-made conch and if it produces a standard sound, she completes it and keeps it to dry.

Meanwhile, the locals are also praising Urmila's initiative and they want her clay conchs to reach bigger markets.

"We do very little to help her. Infact, she prepares the clay conchs herself and is working hard to take the art further," said Urmila's daughter-in-law, Anupama Dehury.

A local, Satyaranjan Mohanty said," This is one-of-its-kind art in Odisha. If she gets the help of the administration to develop the craft, it would get more recognition."

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