Begusarai clay artisans want govt support for their dying art

Begusarai: In a technology driven world where markets are inundated with fancy machine-made goods, many handmade crafts are fading into insignificance. One such craft form that is facing a bleak future is clay art making in Begusarai in Bihar.

Begusarai is home to a large number of clay artisans who have been making idols of gods, water pots, decorative homeware and toys for generations. But poor monetary returns and the absence of any government support has meant a steady decline in the number of artisans engaged in the profession.

Bimal Devi, who has been making clay idols all her life, says her children have no interest in joining the family business. “This is our family business. Nowadays I only manage to earn daily wages to survive. Nothing much can be done with this paltry sum of money. My children are not ready to join this profession as there is no money in it. Making a small idol takes about an hour and it fetches me only Rs 10 or 12,” she says.

While many artisans are moving on in search of better paying work, several like Kailash Pandit have been left behind not because of their love for the profession, but because of lack of choice due to little or no educational qualifications.

“I am in this profession since I was 12. Though I do not get any benefits out of it, I will have to continue with this profession as I have no other option or alternative.” Pandit’s children have, however, chosen to take up other professions.

The artisans are now hoping that the government looks into their plight and takes necessary steps to breathe life into the fast-dying profession.

Sudhir Kumar, the head of the community, says, “The government should take initiative to promote this art. The clay that is used for making these idols and pieces of art, is very expensive and the government should provide them at subsidised rates. They should also provide us a platform where we can sell these artistically-rich products.”