With Diwali around the corner, the potters of Kumbharwada in Dharavi, Mumbai are busy making earthen lamps to light up the entire city of Mumbai.
Kumbharwada in Dharavi is an establishment of potters almost 100 years old. It is the largest community of potters in Mumbai. They are originally from Saurashtra, Gujarat. Khumbars means potter and Wada means colony.
Hence the name Kumbharwada – colony of potters. It occupies 22 acres of land that houses around 1400-1500 families, 700–800 of whom still practice pottery today.
Potters in Kumbharwada still make use of traditional methods of pottery. They use indigenous red and grey clay and bake the moulds in traditional kilns. They use waste forms and sheets of cardboards to light up the kilns. These clay products have simple designs and come in various shapes and sizes. Usually they make earthen pots, bowls and flower vases.
However, pre-Diwali, they particularly concentrate on making lamps enough to light up the entire city of Mumbai.
Unlike the high-rises of busy and noisy Mumbai, a walk through Kumbharwada feels like a trek into time in a traditional village in Gujarat. It is a friendly and happy place where you see families living and working together.
Also contrary to the rest of Dharavi, Kumbharwada is extremely clean and ventilated. To one’s surprise even the house doors are open during day time. These Kumbhars believe that if they keep their surroundings clean and
house doors open, Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity walks through these clean paths and enters their households.
Text And Photos By Vidyavati Chandan