The Vanishing Heritage of Earthenware




When one says Mangalore, there are a few things that are a part of the indigenous history of this place. And one of them is Mangalore Tiles. Being blessed with bountiful monsoons, good soil and water sources round the year, clay and pottery industry once thrived here. However, with modern RCC homes and apartments becoming the order of the day, many of these factories have closed down.

A parallel to this industry is the earthen ware and pottery industry. As the use of earthen ware in routine cooking has drastically reduced, shops selling these which were once flourishing centres of business, are now deserted.
I went to Bharath Supplies, an old establishment in Mangalore, located at the throbbing market area today. We use only earthen ware to cook fish, and since one of our pots has been burning out way too easily, we wanted to replace it. This is my personal experience, if you're used to cooking fish in earthen ware, you'll know what I'm talking about! Nothing comes even slightly close to a fish curry simmering away in a beautiful earthen pot ("kullein" in Konkani).

The place is filled with all sorts of earthen ware articles. Apart from the routine pots, lamps and water jugs, there are quite a few beautiful pieces of art. There are old type of white and brown jars ("bharni" in Konkani), human figurines, pretty tea cups, bowls, and even pot-like nests for love birds. There are nice 'bunds' for Tulsi plant too.
The man running the place got talking. He says he doesn't see many customers these days, and on more than one occasion, he's had the urge to close down the place. People on Deepavali days, haggle for a petty few pennies, whereas they would never do the same thing at the neighbourhood swanky mall, selling the same diya for twenty times the price. He says these are hard times for people like him running small businesses now in Mangalore. Many clay factories around Mangalore have closed down over the last few years, and they now get wares from as far as Kanyakumari. So the profit is meagre.

This small conversation got me thinking. As local citizens, doesn't it make sense to support small vendors and businesses, in whatever little way we can? A point to ponder, I guess...

How to get there:
This is a tiny place located opposite Town Hall, near Lady Goschen Hospital. If you're lucky, you can park your vehicle outside the place for a few minutes. 
Closed on Sundays.

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