Despite being on the wane, the pottery industry seems to liven up weeks before Pahela Baishakh, and this year is no different.
The countdown to Baishakh is enjoyed by all the Bengali craftsmen, who begin to work at a frenzied pace and potters also fall in this category.
One such potter village is the district’s Kumor Bari in Paikpara village under Faridganj upazila. Most of this village’s inhabitants are potters, who excel in making earthen pots such as bowls, vases, trays, etc.
But when Baishakh is on the doorstep, they also tend to craft toys, especially earthen dolls, horses, elephants, peacocks and other fascinating items – all part of the country’s rich cultural heritage.
They seem to immerse themselves wholeheartedly into their trade, with affection and dedication. The result shows in the record number of sales during this time of the year, which makes up for the otherwise-slow remainder of the year.
Regardless, as times as changing and popular demand from earthen pottery has shifted to plastic, the demand for the former has greatly gone down.
As a result many potters have left this trade to try other financially-viable businesses, but most who remained are sticking to the legacy of their forefathers – all of whom were potters.
A major reason for this shifting has been attributed to low sales, according to veteran potters. The advent of plastic and melamine as cheaper alternatives have taken away most of the market share.
One such potter family is Nimai Pal, his wife Rani Bala Pal and daughter-in-law Mita Rani Pal.
They are working extensively to create toys ahead of Baishakh, anticipating satisfactory sales in return.
Nimai said that most of his family members are potters, but they are now losing most of their customers because of plastic and melamine – which are more cosmopolitan in outlook as compared to their earthen potteries.
He laments staying in the profession only to sustain his forefathers’ legacy, but also revealed that his children have not learned the trade and is not sure whether they can continue the trade in the next generation.
Many have folded their pottery business, but are willing to return if there is government support.
The Bengali month of Chaitra is their busiest time of the year, but the rest of it is simply slow on sales and as a result, they often fall on hard times.
Renu Bala Pal said that her daughter is handicapped, so supporting the family through pottery is becoming difficult by the day, if there is no demand or sale of her products in the market.