Dispur's vaunted schemes do not reach traditiol artisans of Hirapara
BY Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Jan 10: The Congress government’s slogan ’15 years of trust, 15 years of development’ is nothing but a cruel joke for the Hira potters of Assam.
The age-old traditiol art, dying fast due to government neglect, has but a few takers now.
“Only during festivals like Bihu, people remember us and come to us. The rest of the year, no one has time for us,” lamented artisan Bi Das of Hirapara of Azara, a village known for the traditiol craft.
The earthen pottery is now confined to only a few articles, like Kata (a flat bowl shaped pottery used for cooking purpose), Saru (a shallow bowl shaped vessel used for making bread and pitha) and Madi (small earthen bowls).
No government scheme has ever reached these set of artisans who are now living a hand to mouth existence. Pottery making is the only means of livelihood for this community, most of the artisans being women.
“We don’t remember receiving any government assistance. Yes, we hear at times, members from the panchayat and Block come and take photographs. But we don’t get anything. Maybe if anything comes, it disappears midway,” said another artisan Dhopou Das.
As a result of the neglect, the earthenware and pottery production figures are going down every year. The artisans also say the demand for their articles is also plummeting.
“We need around four days to make a small Saru. Bigger ones may take even ten days. But we don’t get the equivalent price. A lot of effort is put in the process, but returns are very minimal,” Das adds.
Due to the availability of machine-made cheaper pot and containers, the demand for hand-made potteries fashioned by the Hiras has been going down steeply. However, many villagers still use some particular potteries for their durability and utility.
A Madi comes for around Rs 30, while the prices of Saru start from Rs 40. Prices of a Kata may vary from Rs 80 to Rs 200 depending on the size.
The artisans from Hirapara bring the clay from Chabeel. Some artisans at Gargara, Dhupguri and Xikarhati of West Guwahati are also into Hira pottery.
Hira potters are distributed in Goalpara, Kamrup and Barpeta districts of the lower Brahmaputra valley of Assam. Total population of Hiras in the State is 32,624, of which 3.58 percent are classified as scheduled caste, according to a research in 2007.