CLAY is thrown at the spinningpotters wheel. Water is pouredon it while skilled handsshape the malleable, smooth greyishclay. Then, out comes a small earthenlamp or agal villaku.
It is immediately cut with a cotton string and lined up on a wooden plank together with hundreds of other lamps to be dried and baked.
“It needs to be dried for six hours and baked in the kiln for another six hours,'' said Kuala Selangor master craftsman S. Kandasamy who has been in the trade since the age of 13.
Clay pots, clay covers, waist-high jugs and more than thousand small earthen lamps surround Kanda-samy, 58, who speaks with pride about the significance of the agal villaku.
“Agal means within our hands while villaku is light. All Hindu homes must have earthen oil lamps lighted with wicks using coconut oil to add brilliance to the Festival of Lights or Deepavali,” he said while holding up the palm-size lamp.
Oil lamps are also lighted in Hindu homes to welcome goddess Lakshi-mi for prosperity.
Kandasamy said oil lamps added a touch of magic to the Deepavali celebration.
“Our festival of lights is tied to Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic that is part of the Hindu canon. We celebrate the safe return to Koshala of Rama, king of the mythical kingdom of Ayodhya, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after a war waged to kill the demon Ravana,” he said.
“It is the victory of good over evil and the lights of the agal villaku illuminate the homes and hearts, giving us a new reason and hope to move forward in life. Our auspicious earthen lamps remindus of humbleness and we put it before the deities while offering prayers,” said the father of three.
These oil lamps are available at the shops in Klang's Little India and are also sold throughout Peninsula Malaysia.
Klang's Little India is as busy as ever.
With more than 100 shops located along Jalan Tengku Kelana, people can be seen shopping for sarees, blouses, punjabi suits. ethic wear for the men folk, décorative items and much more.
The festive atmosphere is very much in evidence in this area with popular Tamil songs blaring from speakers, the smell of incense wafting out from the shops and the sweet scent of jasmine flowers coming from the shops selling them.
Also, many patronise the shops along the street selling jewellery.
Shoppers are also flocking to the just opened Ajuntha Textiles that occupies three lots while Saanthi Silks, Chennai Palace and Gayathiri Silk Sarees Palace enjoy roaring business.
Mouth-watering Indian sweet meats like ladu, ghee balls and bright orange coloured jelebi made by chefs from India at Mohana Restaurant are also popular with the crowd.