Demand for traditional clay pots increase dramatically for Ponggal

Last update: 10/01/2020

NIBONG TEBAL, Jan 10 -- Ahead of Pongal, the annual harvest festival celebrated by Hindus on Wednesday (Jan 15), the demand for traditional clay pots has increased dramatically this year.

The pressure was felt by clay pot maker D.Reguraj and his wife, R.Thulasi who have to make sure they have enough supply to meet the high demand from the community and temples for brand new earthen pots to boil cow’s milk and prepare the sweet rice delicacy during the auspicious celebration.

Reguraj belongs to the fifth generation of the ‘Devaraj Pottery’ family which has been operating the traditional pottery business for the past 121 years.

Thulasi, 45, said this year her family, assisted by 15 workers, prepared 50,000 clay pots to be distributed to suppliers, retailers and customers who walk-in to the factory to purchase the pots.

 “Every year, the demand for the pots are overwhelming because the Indian community is encouraged to use new pots each year to cook the sweet rice. It is symbolic of a new beginning,” she told Bernama.

This year, according to Thulasi, they are offering four types of pots of different sizes and colours, that are being sold at a price of between RM3 and RM35.

"The smallest pot is RM3 and can cook as much as one cup of rice. We also take special orders for custom-made pots, especially for the temples. They will cook in large quantities at the temples,” she said.

She said they could make as many as 1,500 clay pots in a week depending on weather conditions to meet most of the demand from the northern states like Penang, Perak, Kedah and Perlis.

“There is demand from other areas but we do not want to send there because we are worried that it will interfere with other people's business there,” said the mother of two children.

According to her, the entire process of making a clay pot takes about a week including grinding the clay specially brought from Ipoh, Perak with sand and flour, before shaping it according to the size of the pot using both hands before drying, burning and colouring it.

She said, since 2018 they had stopped using firewood and instead use gas to bake the pots as it is more environmentally-friendly.

Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the month of ‘Thai’ in the Tamil calendar. It is a celebration to mark a bountiful harvest, and it is ushered in with the hope for a better year ahead.

Ponggal is celebrated over three days. The first day’s highlight is boiling the milk and rice in a new clay pot and ensuring that it spills over the pot to signify abundance.

The second day, known as 'Mattu Ponggal', focuses on cows and bulls which are considered sacred by the Hindus. On this day, these animals are bathed, decorated with garlands and their horns are painted.

 The third day is known as ‘Kanni Ponggal’ and dedicated to unmarried girls who dress up in fine clothes and gold ornaments, and offer prayers in the hope of getting a good husband.