Potter Umer makes thousands of lamps ahead of Diwali in Srinagar

Story by  Basit Zargar | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 05-11-2023
Umer making earthen lamps for Diwali (Basit Zargar)
Umer making earthen lamps for Diwali (Basit Zargar)



In a gesture of communal harmony, a Kashmiri Muslim potter is burning the midnight oil, crafting lamps for Diwali as he is preparing twenty thousand lamps ahead of the festival of lights.

Muhammad Umar, who is a resident of Nishat, on the outskirts of Srinagar, is working round the clock to meet his deadline. Umar, an energetic entrepreneur, is trying to revive the art of pottery in the valley.

"During Eid, they (Hindus) make products for us, and they get employment. Similarly, during Diwali, we make products for them and get employment," Umar said, speaking to media persons.

Umar making Diyas for Diwali in Srinagar

Speaking about the economic significance of Diwali for craftsmen in the valley like him, Umar said, "When Diwali comes, we get employment as well. The person to whom we will sell these diyas will be selling them in wholesale, and he will profit from it as well. We are very happy when Diwali comes because we get order in bulk."

Umar believes that if art forms in Jammu and Kashmir are revived, the problem of unemployment will cease to exist in the valley.

"If we bring to life art forms in Kashmir that are on the decline or have died, unemployment will cease to exist automatically," Umar said.

Umar decided to revive his family craft after completing his graduation. He learned the craft of pottery from his father.

"Pottery is our family tradition. My grandfather and father also work in pottery. I learned pottery from my father. After completing B.Com., I decided to take forward my family tradition and revive this art, which is on the decline in Kashmir," he said.


Umar removing earthern lamps from the fondary

The Kashmiri entrepreneur said that the demand for his products increased when people learned about the side effects of using daily essentials made of plastic.

"When people got to know the side effects of using plastic products, the demand for our products (pottery items) increased. People understood that there are no side effects of using earthen pots, glasses as compared to those made of plastic," Umar said.

Speaking about his orders, Umar said, "Last year we got an order of 15000 diyas. This year, we have prepared for an order of 20,000 diyas. 5,500 diyas are ready. There are a few days left for Diwali. So we will be able to complete more than 20,000 Diyas this time...We will be working on producing diyas till the 9th."

Diwali is the festival of lights. It symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance".

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Diwali is observed on Amavasya (or the new moon), the 15th day of the month of Kartik, every year. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on November 12.