Srinagar: There was a time when Ghulam Qadir Kumar, a potter from Chadoora in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, would make thousands of earthen ‘diyas’ ahead of Diwali.
Now, there are not many takers for his ‘diyas’ but Kumar has still kept alive the tradition of making earthen lamps for the festive occasion.
“Once, I would make more than 2000 diyas ahead of the festival but now there is not much demand. People light candles or modern diyas on the festive occasion but few old timers still want earthen diyas. For this Diwali, I have made only 100 diyas.
There is a wholesaler who takes these diyas from me for local Kashmiri Pandits,” said Kumar, who is in his seventies.
He said he vividly recalled the time when people, especially in the villages would buy earthen lamps.
“Before electricity reached villages, there used to be a huge demand for these earthen lamps. Even in the city, earthen diyas were used. Now, electricity is everywhere. Besides lamps, there is hardly any demand for other earthen products besides diyas,” he said.
Hindu Welfare Society Kashmir (HWSK) president Chunni Lal Bhat too said people now preferred to light candles or designer lamps on Diwali.“People now prefer to use designer lamps on Diwali. These can be brought online but many prefer candles here as these are easy to light. Only a few light up earthen diyas during Diwali celebrations in Kashmir,” said Bhat, who heads the body of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits.
As per the Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), another body of non-migrants, around 800 Pandit families are presently residing in the Valley.
These 800 families did not migrate out of Kashmir after the eruption of militancy more than 30 years back.