`Ghee` lit lamps for Diwali slowly fading out

New Delhi: Earthern diyas lit with desi ghee for Diwali may soon be a forgotten practise as cost-conscious middle class consumers are seen opting for cheaper options for the festival of lights.

While those in the metro cities have over the past many years gradually moved on to other forms of lighting, even those in the rural areas are opting for fancy lights, candles and oil diyas.

"I remember the days when ghee price used to be Re 1 per kilogram. We used to light up Diwali in desi ghee diyas. Today, I see my grandchildren decorating the house in fancy lights and candles. Ghee is a thing of past now," says 96-year-old Gurgaon-based veteran Jai Narayan.

A kilogram of ghee in the domestic market is priced at around Rs 270-300, while one litre mustard oil is in the range of Rs 70-80.

A Chinese string of 100 tiny bulbs can be bought in the range of Rs 50 to Rs 70 and shopkeepers say lights in the shape of pineapples, pomegranates, rice and net stars are seen as popular among buyers.

The significance of using ghee in the Diwali puja is said to be a very sacred service to please the Gods, according to priests.

K P Vyas, a priest at a West Delhi temple attributes use of alternatives to the lack of knowledge amongst people as well as modern-age priests.

"Nowadays religious priests lack a proper knowledge of the vedas which mention the use of ghee to please Gods. Sesame oil is supposed to be the only oil equivalent to ghee and all others including mustard oil is mentioned as used for monsters and other creatures," he says.

Meanwhile, traders say people get attracted to fancy lights due to their colours, shapes and affordability.

"People use lights because they are very cheap and even the poor can afford to buy them and also they consume very little electricity. Rising oil and ghee prices are other factors that have forced people to look for alternatives," says Deepak Singh, a wholesale dealer in Sadar Bazar.

Youngsters also seem more interested in options other than ghee diyas.

"Lighting ghee diyas is a tedious and time-consuming whereas fancy lights are easy to use and they do not leave behind dirty marks on the walls," says Harsh, a school student.

Though traditionalists still root for earthen lamps, the need for those is less now.

Conventional potters in the capital say they are witnessing decrease in sale of diyas and other pottery items for Diwali.

"There was a time when my family used to start making Diwali products two to three months before festival. People now are more interested in fancy and cheap lights. So, how can they light up ghee diyas when they do not buy diyas only," says Raghu, a potter from old Delhi.