INDIA. Mumbai: This year, 25 people with physical challenges made more than 25,000 diyas in artisan workshops organized by the National Association of Disabled’s Enterprises (NADE). The municipal schools located in Tagore Nagar and Kannamwar Nagar were converted into makeshift classrooms for the occasion. NADE currently relies mostly on online sales due to Covid restrictions.
Diwali or “festival of lights” is a Hindu festival that lasts five days in the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November). The celebration of Diwali offers many opportunities to groups involved in the preparation of decorative material. Specially trained by NADE in Vikhroli, northeast Mumbai, more than two dozen disabled people made attractive colored diyas of different designs and sizes to offer to buyers.
DATES OF DIWALI FESTIVAL 2021
NOVEMBER 2: DHANTERAS
NOVEMBER 3: CHOTI DIWALI
NOVEMBER 4: DIWALI
NOVEMBER 5: GOVARDHAN PUJA
NOVEMBER 6: BHAI DOOJ
Diyas, Indian earthen lamps
A diya is an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oils. Diyas are native to the Indian subcontinent often used in religious festivals such as Diwali or the Kushti ceremony.
The work of NADE explained
Every year, large quantities of earth lamps and other materials, including paper lanterns, were sold at stalls set up at the Siddhi Vinayak Temple, the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Hiranandani Complex, and adjacent areas. However, due to COVID-19, this year the sale is mainly online.
The founding president of NADE, Mr. K.N. Radhakrishnan Nair told Raju Vernekar for the Transcontinental Times, “Before, during Diwali, we used to sell the decorative material, including the earthen lamps and lanterns, worth almost Rs 10 lakh. However, due to coronavirus-induced restrictions, the sale is expected to be cut in half this year. Last year the situation was also more or less the same. Despite the reduced sale, our artisans earn wages of more than Rs 200 per day.”
Nair further explained that the group of disabled people the Association trains begin preparing the clay lamps from August to maintain the supply-demand relationship. Artisans include people with different physical and mental challenges without discrimination based on their disability. NADE provides the materials and the specialized training so that they can handle their job independently.
He continued, “We have been doing this work since 1987. The work that we started experimentally has now multiplied. Throughout the year our workers are dedicated to the manufacture of paper bags, cloth bags, umbrellas, stationery, etc. We give specialized training related to different jobs so that these people become self-sufficient.”
Relationship between Survival and the Arts and Crafts
It turns out that the ability to focus on smaller details for people facing physical or mental challenges, or both, is a survival skill that each of them develops on a personal level. Collaborating with NADE, in the end, is the only support that some disabled people will ever get to cover their basic existential needs. Being able to bring happiness to others through arts and crafts is also beneficial to the mental health and self-esteem of people who are physically and / or mentally challenged as they feel less of a burden and more integrated into Indian society in this way.
Nair also stated that even though many people volunteer to help NADE in their work, they need more attention and business support as “If people with disabilities are properly trained, they can produce better results than healthy people.” (We have just explained the reasons above.)
Support in sales and / or funds is crucial for NADE as they are looking for a bigger premises to be able to operate more workshops for different trade-in futures. If you can help the National Association of Disabled’s Enterprises with this social endeavor, contact NADE here.