Dharavi's Diya Makers & Their Story

Homegrown Staff

63-year-old Ranchod Bhai does not remember when his father migrated to Mumbai from their village in Gujarat. He, however, does remember spending hours with him every day, getting his hands dirty and learning to shape the perfect diya on his potter’s wheel. Dropping out of school after the eighth grade, making diyas is what Ranchod Bhai has done for the last 50 years. And as he proudly puts it – he would not have it any other way.

But being the master craftsman that he is, Ranchod Bhai has had some serious competition. He is only one of the 800 odd diya-makers who reside in Dharavi’s Kumbharwada (that literally translates to ‘potter’s colony’).

Here, around the makeshift kilns lie freshly baked earthen pots and diyas of various shapes and sizes. Made by the local Kumbhars of Dharavi in their tiny one-room houses, these diyas light up nights in various parts of the country.

Perhaps the younger generation wants to do the same. That’s for us to find out in the near future. But, as of now, the Kumbharwada thrives with its business. It is Diwali time after all and the flicker of passion and light within them needs to continue burning.