The Potter’s Wheel Spins Vessels Of Hindu-Muslim Amity In Gandhi’s Gujarat

The Potter’s Wheel Spins Vessels Of Hindu-Muslim Amity In Gandhi’s Gujarat

Sumra Muslim potters go back annually to Sarkhej Roza, the place their items are purchased by way of Hindu wholesale investors, evoking secular solidarity

Via Gajanan Khergamker*, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Each and every morning, Rehman Sumra of Kheralu village in Mehsana district rummages thru his wares, salvaging no matter he can, packing them for his annual adventure to paintings. Each and every passing day brings greater nervousness to the Muslim potter who, like his fellow craftsmen, was once hit the worst by way of the newest floods in Gujarat. “The rains have stopped, and it is time to cross to Ahmedabad and get started paintings,” he says, taking a look on the cloudy skies.

Each and every 12 months in September, greater than 100 potters belonging to the Sumra group head for Ahmedabad’s Sarkhej Roza from their villages in Mehsana. In Sarkhej Roza, they arrange makaan and karkhana, (house and workshop) at areas they tackle a five-year rent.

Working out of cash as their paintings were not on time, Rehman incurred sudden further expenditures in repairing his flood-hit village house. Whilst the federal government forces rescued stranded electorate from Banaskantha, Patan and Mehsana districts in north Gujarat, the badly affected potter group waited out the monsoons. “We have now long gone thru with our financial savings, there is no paintings within the village, and to best it, we suffered monetary loss owing to the rains,” Mariam, Rehman’s spouse, informed Having lived off their profits all over the heavy monsoon, the Sumras are willing to get again to paintings.

Strengthening secular ties

Despite the hardships and hand-to-mouth life, the Sumras sit up for their paintings. For the industrial job has carved out a ravishing socio-cultural affiliation because the Muslim Sumra households make pots for the predominantly Hindu Kumbhar group in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, strengthening secular ties, particularly in occasions.

With the rain clouds receding and humidity reducing, Rehman and his spouse Mariam are set to go back to Sarkhej Roza to start out their paintings as soon as once more. For the following 8 months, the Sarkhej Roza suburb of Ahmedabad will likely be house to Rehman and loads of alternative Muslim potters.

From Diwali till the following chaumasa, as they name the monsoons, they’re going to make hundreds of pots that might be purchased by way of each wholesalers and shops. The Sumras concentrate on making pots of various styles and sizes for storing water and maintaining it cool all over summers.

Each and every kumbharwada, as a agreement of potters is understood, has roughly 20 potter households dwelling and dealing in combination. The potter households in a kumbharwada are most commonly from the similar village. The shanties are covered subsequent to one another and lined with massive plastic sheets. Pots are positioned in stunning symmetrical patterns, in rows and stacked vertically, to be bought within the wholesale marketplace.

The households in a kumbharwada pay a landlord who owns all the plot and rents out each and every shanty for Rs 1,200 per thirty days. With an extra expenditure on electrical energy, the fees upload as much as Rs 2,000 per thirty days, and the potters don’t pay any deposit. They make five-year agreements and paintings fully on believe.

The potter households who come to Sarkhej Roza were doing so often for the previous 15 years. Some like Noori were coming for 20 years. “In truth, I reside right here and cross to my village best when I’ve to wait a circle of relatives serve as,” stated the 50-year-old from Sidhpur in Patan district For lots of, the brief houses appear extra everlasting to them than the homes of their local villages.

Making pots, no longer cash

The pottery procedure is not precisely a very easy one. In line with Sumra, getting the clay or chikni mitti is hard. Clay is sourced from the beds of lakes of Sanand and a tractor load of clay for making about 500 pots prices Rs 2,000. As soon as the pots are made, they wish to be colored with geru (earthen ochre ), which is ordered from Thaan, a village about 120 km from Sarkhej Roza.

Rehman’s brother-in-law, 20-year-old Imran Haji Sumra, lives in an adjoining shanty together with his circle of relatives and transports the pots to towns corresponding to Surat and Valsad in South Gujarat. Inside a couple of years of beginning paintings, he has been ready to shop for a mini truck that may delivery 700 pots. On handing over pots in Surat, 350 km from Ahmedabad, Imran earns Rs 7,000.

Making ends meet till there may be sufficient call for for pots is difficult for the potters. Every so often the pots do not promote as anticipated. Then the Sumras go away the pots of their karkhanas and go back to their village; they arrive again subsequent 12 months and promote the similar all over Diwali.

Circle of relatives effort

Opposite to the stereotyping related to the group, women and men paintings shoulder-to-shoulder. Whilst Rehman does hard bodily duties, Mariam too handles the ones which are similarly backbreaking. Lifting heavy pots, luggage of clay and developing inventive pots are gender-neutral actions for the group.

Shahida, one among Noori’s daughters, involves Sarkhej Roza annually to lend a hand her mom within the circle of relatives trade after which returns to her marital circle of relatives in Mandali village in Mehsana district. “I lend a hand my mom in colouring and baking the pots,” stated Shahida whilst she endured cooking the circle of relatives’s meal.

Noori’s parents-in-law Ibrahim Sumra and Ruksana leisure at the makeshift mattress as Noori geese underneath the low ceiling fan to sit down subsequent to them. “It is very important stay the fan low so the pots can dry briefly,” she explains.

This 12 months Noori, Imran’s mom, has introduced 3 goats to verify milk for her grandchildren. “Lekin, inko rakhna bhi toh mehenga padta hai (However rearing goats too is a expensive affair),” she says. On a daily basis she spends Rs 100 on fodder for the goats.

All of the individuals of the potter circle of relatives pitch in to make a collective incomes. If the person of the home is busy with the pottery trade, the girl units up store promoting on a regular basis pieces in her makaan. Mariam runs a makeshift retailer promoting grocery to the opposite potters. The youngsters maintain the goats.

An earthly community

Whilst the potters are all Muslims, they deal essentially with Hindu wholesale sellers who purchase the pots in bulk. Ahmedabad’s Vejalpur-based Girish Prajapati, a normal wholesale broker says he feels at house when he involves Sarkhej Roza to shop for pots. “I’m a Prajapati, a Hindu potter and I all the time purchase my wares from a Sumra, a Muslim potter. We have now been doing trade for a few years now, and not using a unmarried drawback,” he says.

Gajanan Khergamker is a Mumbai-based unbiased editor, solicitor and filmmaker. He heads, an India-based media-legal suppose tank. This newsletter was once first printed on, a public-interest communications platform involved in rural India.

The evaluations expressed on this publish are the private perspectives of the creator. They don’t essentially mirror the perspectives of HuffPost India. Any omissions or mistakes are the creator’s and HuffPost India does no longer think any legal responsibility or accountability for them.

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