(Image source from: indianexpress.com)
In the lane of Kumbharwada, a hundred years-old pottery hub of Asia’s largest slum Dharavi is busy with the festival of lights.
Tayyab Tak (43), is doing his best on the potter’s wheel with just another day left for Diwali.
There are many shoppers busy buying diyas from the display.
He says, “The gates are now open. People have started coming to buy our goods. There is some hope,”
Further, Yousuf Galwani (38), has a firm that takes care of corporate orders for pottery, he says that the idea to move away from Chinese lamps and lights has done good to his business.
He says, so has the government’s push to go “vocal for local”.
“Diwali and Ramzan are important periods of business. This year, there was almost no business during Ramzan…With restrictions on public movement still in place, we were worried that even Diwali will be a dampener. But the government relaxed some of the curbs in time,” says Galwani. He adds, “People are preferring earthen lamps and diyas over Chinese goods. This has brought some cheer.”
Expecting good retail business during Diwali, a road is rented by Galwani’s firm as they continue to serve wholesale and corporate orders. All the shops sell terracotta diyas in various shapes and colours.
He says, “We are back to 75 per cent of usual sales during Diwali, at least the investment made in manufacturing is being recovered.”
His close friend Dawood Meen (48), owns a small pottery unit and mentions of the sales down by 40-50 percent than it usually is. It is still going tough he says.
“We are mainly dependent on orders from within Mumbai with most residents not allowed to take local trains.”
Meen’s brother, Ismail, mentioned about how governments have ignored small businesses like the potters in Dharavi.
“A politician distributed mechanised pottery machines to some of us recently. But these turned out to be faulty,” he says.
Suresh Wagadia (51), hopes that there isn’t a lockdown further. He says, “After Diwali, we will have to wait for Makar Sankrant in January, 2021, for a surge in business….We just can’t afford another lockdown.”
What looks risky is several shoppers moving from one street to another without wearing masks.
By Neha Makhija