In a touching display of communal harmony, Muhammad Umar, a Kashmiri Muslim potter, is toiling tirelessly to craft lamps for Diwali. Hailing from Nishat, on the outskirts of Srinagar, Umar has taken on the ambitious task of creating twenty thousand lamps in preparation for the festival of lights.
Reviving Pottery in the Valley
Muhammad Umar is not only an artisan but also an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a noble mission—to rekindle the art of pottery in the Kashmir Valley. His passion for his craft and deep belief in unity drive his endeavors.
A Beautiful Exchange of Crafts
Umar emphasizes the reciprocal nature of the relationship between communities during festive seasons. He points out that during Eid, when Muslims celebrate, Hindu artisans create products that contribute to their livelihoods. In return, during Diwali, Muslims like Umar diligently craft lamps, supporting their Hindu counterparts. This beautiful exchange highlights the essence of communal harmony.
Economic Significance of Diwali
Speaking about the economic significance of Diwali for artisans like him in the valley, Umar notes the boost in employment opportunities that the festival brings. He highlights the symbiotic nature of their work, explaining that the lamps they create are often sold wholesale, benefitting both the craftsperson and the retailer.
The Potential of Art in Kashmir
Muhammad Umar firmly believes that the revival of traditional art forms in Jammu and Kashmir can effectively combat unemployment in the region. He underscores the importance of preserving and nurturing these fading crafts to create sustainable economic opportunities for the local population.
A Legacy Continues
Umar’s journey to pottery began within the family, where it was a cherished tradition passed down through generations. His father imparted the skills and knowledge of ceramics to him. After completing his B.Com., Umar decided to carry forward this family legacy and breathe new life into a declining art form in Kashmir.
Muhammad Umar’s dedication to his craft and his commitment to fostering communal harmony through creative expression serve as an inspiring example of how shared traditions and values can bridge divides and create a brighter, more inclusive future for all.
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