#ShopLocal #DilwaloKiDiwali: Potters’ Lane in Delhi near Sarojini NagarAeshal Fatima
In the famous Matka Market, which is thronged by thousands of buyers and visitors especially during this time of the year, the spirits of the traders and sellers have dampened as the sales have gone down. The A.K. Roy Marg Lane consists mostly of non-permanent under-a-tree shops with painters painting the ornamental items, shopkeepers trying to sell the handmade pottery or the buyers simply bargaining the price of the designer terracotta fountains.
This South Delhi street is nevertheless, an eternal haven for all the Indian culture enthusiasts and fanatics. The handmade clay goods are initially transported from states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kolkata and later sold by traders. These sellers and traders, either belong to the nearby slums or are migrant sellers who have come to Delhi only for this sole purpose.
Though, since a long time, we all have associated Sarojini market with just inexpensive clothes and cushion covers, this market offers a wide variety of pots ranging from clay, and ceramic to fibre, and plastic. Some are shaped like animals, there are square-shaped ones used for growing tulsi, some have stonework, while others have a subtle background with colourful intricate designs drawn on it. As a shopkeeper told me on my first visit that I can basically find all kinds of pots used on a day to day basis, in this narrow lane. I strongly agreed after a short visit.
If you park your car on one side of the road, and just walk by, you observe the aesthetically made diyas, Manipuri lamps, tortoise shell-shaped plant holders, wind-chimes, medium-sized extraordinary lanterns, bells, terracotta elephants, and inexpensive candle sets, makes you want to buy innumerable of these. That too, at a wholesale price, and can be gifted to your friends and family during the festive season instead of handing over the gloomy Soan-Papdi like every year. Even if you do not intend to buy anything the Dil-ki-awaaz forces you to at least buy one of the candle sets or the diyas. Probably, just to post the perfect Diwali picture with the candles in the background on Instagram.
Aside from the countless pots, the bazaar also comprises handcrafted miniature Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi on a tiger in all kinds of colours and sizes. Although these can be found around the year, the numbers spike around October-November as both of them are worshipped during the festival of lights. One of the major attraction or ritual of the festival is lighting a diya, which according to Hinduism, signifies purity and goodness. From the floating and clay to the terracotta and shankh, you will stumble upon diyas of all kinds in this marketplace. Marking the Hindu festivity, some of the diyas have the “Om” and “Swastika” symbols drawn on it. While others are painted in different colours and decorated with small mirrors. Both wax-filled as well as the non-wax- filled diyas can be bought in red, blue, yellow and various other colours, and the price varies consequently.
In addition to the painters selling the diyas and the pots, with a palate in one of the colour-stained hands and a brush in the other, they can be seen applying gold-painted sponge on the petite temples. These mini- temples are painted with red and are kept in the puja rooms present in most of the Indian households. The hands of these artists are so stable and steady, that the finished art always comes out to be an absolute masterpiece.
As a showpiece to put on doors, the “Shubh-Labh” decorative wooden hanging, Rajasthani handmade latkans (hangings) as well as the traditional peacock hanging can also be found in some of the shops. These are some praiseworthy and value for money accessories that can play a vital role in setting the ambience and environment of your home.
Though these are one of the markets where your bargaining skills would come in handy, it is their unique and excellent quality that makes it worth a visit. These artists also customise products just for you, if you have specifications about the design and the shape of your matkas or planters.
In conclusion, I think this is the time when these small scale artists and sellers need you the most. Though there have been major discussions about “Supporting Local Business” due to the circumstances, its effect would only be visible, if we implement it in our daily lifestyles. This festive season instead of shopping from multinational companies, go local. Buy diyas from the street vendors, match your outfits with the local dupatte-vala, and take the mithai ka dabba from the nearby shop, because you never know how you can make this Diwali a brighter one for at least one local business.
Address: Bylane on the road towards Sarojini Nagar Depot at AK Roy Marg