Bhubaneswar: The prevailing pandemic situation has hit the business of earthen diyas (lamps) hard as sales nosedived this Diwali season as compared to the business in the previous years, leaving potters high and dry.
Traditional diya makers from Parakula, Jokia and Rangala areas of Marshaghai block in Kendrapara and Soroda in Ganjam had started work well in advance and made large volumes of earthen lamps of various shapes and sizes during the lockdown in anticipation of good business during the festive season. However, the demand was far from expectations as has been witnessed in the dwindling orders they received, while the ban on firecrackers by the State Government only aggravated the situation.
“We had made large quantity of diyas during the lockdown expecting good demand during Diwali, but it didn’t work,” said Sukanti Behera, a potter from Kendrapara.
“Last year we had good business. But this time, the distributors didn’t want to take the risk due to the prevailing slump in the market on account of the uncertainties accentuated by Covid-19,” she added.
Other factors that has affected the sales of native potters is the flooding of candles from neighbouring West Bengal, decorative and fancy electric lamps from China which has changed the preferences of customers. They like decorative lights and candles over earthen lamps, she said.
“This year’s income from sales does not add up to the labour,” said Kanduri Charan Behera, another potter from Kendrapara.
Meanwhile, sub-collector of Kendrapara district, Jyoti Shankar Mohapatra said the administration is aware of the plights of the diya makers.
“We are thinking of providing them some financial assistance. However, we are waiting for a direction from the state government before we act on that,” said Mohapatra.
Meanwhile, for the 60 odd potters’ families of Soroda in Ganjam, for whom good sales during Diwali consists of a substantial chunk of their annual income, this year’s gloomy market situation would mean tough times ahead.
“The pandemic has ruined our business this time. Our livelihood is at stake. We are going through serious financial constraints and apprehensive about our future,” lamented Suduru Behera, a potter from Soroda.
“The government should consider our plight and provide us some financial assistance,” he demanded.