BHOPAL: The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the business of artisans, traditionally engaged in making diyas and clay artifacts. The artisans, belonging to the Prajapati community from the state, say that their sales are down by almost 70%.
The family of Khemchandra Prajapati from Dhamna, Chhattarpur is in the business of making and selling clay items for the past three generations. Khemchandra, who has set up a stall selling clay items, including diyas, in the Deepotsav Mela currently underway at Gauhar Mahal in the city, says that by this time every year, he would have participated in at least four exhibitions at different places in the state as well as outside. “But this year, this is my first exhibition. The business is down by 70%,” he says. He could sell goods worth just Rs 5,000 in the four days since the beginning of the Deepotsav.
According to him, normally by September, the sales of his products start picking up. But this year is different. All the five members of his family join him in the work. In the off-season, they do farming.
Rajkumar Prajapati, also from Chhattarpur, says that though his grandfather, father and he himself made a living by selling clay items he is not sure whether his sons would continue the tradition. Rajkumar says that people are simply not coming out to make purchases. “This is my first exhibition post-lockdown. Last year, I sold articles worth Rs 40,000 in this mela. But this time, my total sales to date have been below Rs 2,000,” he says.
He has put a wide variety of diyas – with the price ranging from Rs 2 to Rs 400 a piece – on sale. Rajkumar and seven other members of his family make clay items throughout the year, barring the three months of summer.
Similarly, Sonu Kumar Prajapati from Bhopal says that he belongs to the fourth generation of his family of potters. “Every year, I used to display and sell clay-made items in at least four exhibitions in Bhopal itself during the festive season. But this year, this is my first exhibition,” he says.
In the past, he also used to set up stalls in exhibitions in Ujjain, Sagar, Vidisha and even Goa. But he couldn’t go anywhere this year due to the pandemic. He, his wife and his younger brother start making their products from January. They sell their wares to wholesale merchants. “From September, we start selling our goods ourselves,” he says. He blames Covid for the drop in his business, which he says is down by 70%.
The Deepotsav, organised by the MP Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation with a view to providing a market to traditional artisans from the state, will continue till November 12. Sonu hopes that the sales would pick up as Diwali draws closer.