Mangalore: Illuminating Homes with Clay Lamps on Diwali

Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore (CN)

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Mangalore, Oct 25: Diwali has a special place among Indian festivals. It is a five-day celebration which takes place on the 15th day of the Hindu month of ‘Kartika’ (October/November as per the Gregorian calendar). The word ‘Diwali’ means, ‘rows of lighted lamps’. The celebration is often referred to as the ‘Festival of Lights’ because of the practice of lighting small clay lamps and placing them around the home-in courtyards as well as on rooftops and outer walls.

A potter family residing in the city near Mariamma Temple, Urwa Boloor, has traditionally been making clay lamps for about about last 800 years—yes you read it right; for the past eight centuries! According to Ganesh Kumbara, the head of the family, they make about 4,000 lamps every day. During Diwali season the number rises to about 6,000.

‘For the past 30 years, I have been involved in this work. This is a profession followed by our sect. There is a huge demand for earthen lamps during Diwali season. Our lamps are exported to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. Ten years ago ‘sambrani’ lamps were exported to Sharjah’, he says.

Ganesh denies that the entry of electronic lamps and candles in the market has impacted on the demand for these traditional lamps. He claims the contrary is true and they are manufacturing lamps in bigger quantities than the previous years. ‘There are four types of lamps with different price tags. A person can manufacture about 400 lamps a day. During Diwali we manufacture about 200 extra lamps compared to other days,’ adds Ganesh.

The clay is brought from Polali. Ganesh says, ‘The financial assistance given to potters by the government is just on paper. Till date, we have not received any kind of subsidy or assistance.’ According to him, there is no other Kumbara family in the city that manufactures these quaint clay lamps.

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by Thafleel U - Daijiworld Media Network Mangalore
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Comment on this article

  • ronald, barkur

    Mon, Oct 27 2008

    Hats of to the Kumbars ! Never heard of such a legacy ...eight centuries old !Happy Deepawali everyone !


    Mon, Oct 27 2008


  • Vincent D'Souza, Mangalore/Switzerland

    Sun, Oct 26 2008

    Now, why do we call it Diwali and not Deepawali which is the original name? The British shortened it to Diwali and many Indians still use that name. If we really want to be integrated we should use the term used by Hindus still in our region - Deepawali.

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