The light of the lamp dispels the darkness of ignorance. Therefore a lamp holds great significance in the life of young learners. It is symbolic of lighting the flame of learning and seeking. Much has been written in several texts on the significance of the earthen lamp. In India lighting of a lamp also marks the commencement of an auspicious event, celebration or festival. And the festival of lights- Diwali- is incomplete without the lighting up rows of earthen lamps. Keeping this significance in mind, and with Diwali just round the corner, the students of Staford invited a potter to demonstrate how an earthen lamp is made. The children got a first-hand experience of making diyas for Diwali!
The potter dressed in his traditional Indian, rustic attire came to the school, on 23rd of October, with clay and the famed potter’s wheel. Interestingly, though the tradition of making clay and earthen pots is still alive in India, the traditional potter’s wheel is now gradually being replaced with a mechanical wheel-as was evident in the case of the potter who came to our school. The students were delighted to see this innovative wheel and avidly followed every action of the potter – the setting up of the clay on the revolving wheel, the deft movement of his hands, and his experienced fingers smoothly shaping the lump of clay into diyas of various shapes and sizes.
Every student from the pre-primary to the primary section got a chance to mould the clay into the desired shape. All the children were brimming with excitement as they went about turning the clay body into objects of required shaped. The potter showed the children how to prepare the clay, first by kneading it into the right consistency, then he showed them how this round moist lump of clay was thrown down onto the wheel head, made even and forced to the centre of the wheel by applying pressure; next he showed them how to shape the spinning mound of clay by pinching the clay with the thumb and forefinger while supporting it firmly with the left hand and thus shaping it. The trickiest part was removing the diya or the shaped object from the rest of the lump. It had to be done with cheese wire slicing the clay deftly from the bottom. The seemingly easy task of making diyas was a challenge for most children. There was much fun, giggles and guffaws when the shapes turned out to be different than expected, or when the clay fell off the wheel, or when the diya bottom came away with a hole.
Not just the children, but the teachers too enjoyed this activity, it was a difficult task for them to widen the clay with their thumb and to balance the clay. The most difficult task was to cut the diya from wheel head with cheese wire. Children enjoyed diya making with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement and their wait for the diyas to dry began immediately after- for now the children are waiting to decorate the diyas they have made.