The use of clay-made wares, including lamps, is greatly declining in the district during the Tihar festival in recent years. In the past, the nooks and corners and the courtyard of the house used to be illuminated with oil lamps made of clay. This used to add a traditional tinge to the festival of lights.
But these days, the clay-made lamps have become a rarity during the Tihar festivity. The Kumal (potter) community used to make clay pots and lamps for the Tihar. The locals also used to buy clay lamps and pots from the Kumals.
"Before, people used to illuminate the house lighting clay lamps. Using clay lamps and pots was good in that it preserved the culture and tradition of Tihar on the one hand and also provided some income to the potters on the other. But these days people have started using electric lights instead," said Devraj Dhakal, a local social worker of Rampur.
The increasing import and use of electric lights for illumination has displaced the use of traditional clay lamps. Moreover, the potters too are abandoning their ancestral profession these days and the clay lamps and pots are in short supply.
"We do not get clay lamps in the market for buying. There are only few potters who manufacture clay lamps these days and there is shortage in the market. Instead we can get the electric lights easily and it is also easy to use them," said Parbati Neupane, a housewife.
Although the Kumals made clay lamps in limited number in the previous years even for the sake of preservation of the tradition, they could not manufacture clay ware and lamps this year due to the incessant rain. So, many people who came to the Kumals to buy clay lamps had to return empty-handed.
"The new generation of our community are no longer interested in their ancestral profession. Only some older Kumals like me are making clay wares these days merely for the sake of preserving our tradition and culture. We could not produce enough clay lamps this time due to the rains," said Som Bahadur Kumal of Rampur-6.
According to him, shortage of suitable clay for making clay pots is another reason why the potter community is abandoning their traditional profession. He said the local government has banned collecting clay in large quantity and they have to do so during the night to avoid being caught. He demanded that the local government should make arrangements for the supply of clay.
Rampur ward no 6 chairperson Lok Maya Kumal however said that the local Ward Office would make arrangements for the supply of clay if the interested people applied for the same. There are around 250 Kumal households residing in Rampur-6.
Source: National News Agency Nepal