Matir pidim or earthen diyas are considered auspicious and have withstood the test of time, as these hand crafted lamps light up the dark night of Diwali in millions of homes and dispel the darkness each year.
Panchmura, a small village in Bankura (also famous for Terracotta Horses) in West Bengal – also known as the ‘potters’ belt’, is where these earthen lamps are popularly crafted. However, owing to its popularity and high demand during the Diwali season lamps are now made in almost all villages.
Earlier matir pidim or clay lamps would be made in every home from entel mat or sticky soil, as women and children would craft out the lamps and dry them in the sun. The potters, of course use the kiln to bake them dry and firm.
Traditionally, these earthen diyas are filled with oil, and a wick is inserted in them. The modern avatars are converted into ‘candle diyas’, and are preferred as it is easier to light. In fact, having undergone a fashionable makeover, diyas are now brightly painted and embellished with glitter, beads, mirror work, ribbons and such.
As times have changed and competition from cheaper options like the electric ‘tooni’ or rice lights is on the rise, clay lamps from West Bengal continue to hold their own, and have travelled all across the country and even abroad through exhibitions. Copper enameled diyas from the state are particularly famous and are in great demand.
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