Around 20 women making small ghee lamps for temples sought the district administration’s intervention in restoring the use of lamps in temples.

In a petition submitted at the Collectorate here on Monday, members of Akila Indiya Kulalar Munnetra Kazhagam said that over one lakh families across Tamil Nadu would be affected if women stopped making ghee lamps.

“Temples are the biggest market for these lamps. If people stop purchasing the lamps, it will hit the industry,” P. Jyothi, a petitioner, said, “The industry is usually dominated by women. In most families, we are the breadwinners. The sudden ban on the use of small oil/ghee lamps will dim our lives.” According to them, there are about 3,000 lamp makers in Madurai.

They make the lamps out of clay and charge between 35 paise to 40 paise for them depending on the size. M. Kamatchi, another petitioner, said that most workers devote at least 10 hours of the day making around 300-500 lamps to sustain their livelihood. While summer is profitable, the monsoon shows a dip in their total sales.

During the lean phases, the women try their hand at making pots but say that the men usually take charge – giving them unequal opportunity. “We do not know any other skill. We have been given machines by the government to continue with lamp making. I do not understand how tables can suddenly turn,” she said.

V. Thiagarajan, founder of Akila Indiya Kulalar Munnetra Kazhagam, said that the fire at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple hit the poorest of the poor in the belly. “For thousands of years, we have lit lamps at temples. So many people believe that lighting lamps is a means to get closer to god. This ban will affect them as well,” he said.

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