Come Diwali and our houses light up with dozens of pretty earthen diyas. Generations have passed but these lamps have not lost their significance to the everchanging waves of time. Yes, we have electric or battery strings of lights but even those haven’t been able to replace the simple oil lamp.
Awareness about sustainability and our pleasures of enjoying chai in kullads have somewhat kept the art of pottery alive. But even then, the best bet for potters is to strive during the Diwali months to make and sell as many diyas as they can, so the rest of the year passes comfortably.
This Diwali, why not pay the potters’ home a visit and get to know how the wheels of their occupation turn? Spin Monkey, an eco-tourism organisation based in Delhi is organising a heritage tour to teach you the age-old art of pottery.
Gaurav Sharma, whose heritage walks are popular in the city, will be leading the tour and you get the opportunity to meet the National Award Winning potter, Harkishan Prajapati!
Explore the city on wheels or feet:
Anchit Deogar is a passionate cyclist from Delhi. Over the past few years, he wheeled through the narrow and densely populated streets of the national capital, exploring nooks and corners of the city that would go unseen in a car. He soon realised that the Delhi that one normally sees is a tiny fraction of the city that hides away from the glamour.
And so, along with his friend Nishita, who is also a passionate explorer, he decided to start an organisation that allows more people to cycle or walk through the lesser-seen parts of Delhi. Therein lies its soul, he realised.
The result was Spin Monkey.
Why a pottery tour on Diwali?
Anchit tells The Better India that this is a one-of-a-kind art that is dying a slow but sure death. The occupation that was born in the prehistoric ages needs to be revived for the sake of the craft and the thousands who earn their livelihood through it.
“Kullads and earthen pots are diminishing in their numbers because of a very low demand. As a result, this craft is going extinct. We need to revive it and this is one inspiration behind the walks we have arranged. The other reason is that we need to understand how difficult the craft is. It does not come easy. Harkishan Parajapati and the other potters will give the demonstration,” Anchit tells TBI.
Gaurav Sharma adds that the potters, although humble in their accommodation and lifestyle, are anything but ordinary. Some display their pots in exhibitions across India while others have displayed them in Dubai, London etc. Prajapati himself has been on government sponsored tours to Germany, Japan, Spain and the USA. “These are extraordinary people doing what seems like ordinary work. But their products are anything but mediocre. Only when you visit their workplaces can you get the real essence of the occupation,” the history teacher adds.
What you can expect from the tour:
The four hour tour will take you through the potters’ colonies in Delhi, introducing you to the men and women who sculpt the diyas, brightening up your Diwali. Gaurav Sharma will walk you through the history of the place and tell you how these hundreds of potters came from Rajasthan and Haryana to settle in Delhi.
You will also meet Harkishan Prajapati and learn the techniques of pottery from him. Informs Anchit, “Just to give you a glimpse of how difficult the craft is, each attendee will be given 15 minutes to make their own pots. Prajapati will guide you on how much water to use and how to shape it. But the objective is to see how perfect a pot you can make in a limited time period.”
You’ll be walking the streets just before Diwali and so, this will give you the perfect opportunity to do your diya shopping – straight from the potters’ wheel!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)