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Potters finding hard to meet high demand

2021 Nov 02, 14:34, Bhaktapur
Shova Laxmi Prajapati making a oil lamp at Pottery Square, Bhaktapur on July 28, 2021 Photo: Prasan Gurung/Nepalnews

Prajapati community is finding hard to meet the demand for traditional oil lamp locally known as 'Pala' while the Tihar, the festival of lights, has already began.

Pottery is the ancestral profession of the Prajapati community. Currently, the community is busy commercializing clay arts for the festival of lights.

Binod Kumar Prajapati of Pottery Square feels more pressure to meet demand for traditional clay pots, especially for oil lamp during this festival season. “Demands for Pala, and Dhupauro are high and we are morally bound to meet the orders,” he said. “This is the peak season for pottery business, so our entire family gets busy in making clay pots since the morning,” he added.

He has already supplied 40,000 Pala this year. Demands for both large and small oil lamps are equally high. Each member of 40 households in the Pottery Square is engaged in pottery-making activities.

Last two years, pottery business was hanging by a thread due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, this year demands have increased. The earthen lamps and wares are supplied to Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Kavre, Banepa, Panauti, Sindhupalchowk, Dhading, Nuwakot, Pokhara, Narayangadh and even to Birgunj.

The cost of 100 units of pala (earthen lamp) was in the range from Rs 90 to Rs 110 until three years back. It has now increased and per unit wholesale price is Rs 2 while its retail price is Rs 4 per pala this year.

According to Binod Kuma, it has been seven years since they have been facing the shortage of clay in Bhaktapur. The traders bring the clay from Sankhu but the quality of the clay is not as it used to be.

The potters here are worried their traditional profession is in crisis due it. Dayaram Prajapati, another porter from Bhaktapur, said the traders charged Rs 10,000 for a mini-truck of clay. Likewise, the potters here are also grappling with shortage of wood for burning to dry the manufactured clay ware. "We have been using the wood collected from the debris and wreckage of the houses that collapsed during the 2015 Earthquake as fuel to dry the clay ware these days. We will be in trouble once we run out of the supply," explains Dayaram.


Prajapati community oil lamp Festival of Lights Tihar pottery Pottery square covid-19 pandemic Bhaktapur Kathmandu Lalitpur Kavre Banepa Panauti Sindhupalchowk Dhading Nuwakot Pokhara Narayangadh clay Potters
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