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Padmapur (ପଦ୍ମପୁର) : The sivakasi of Odisha , Cuttack District – Article by Taranisen Pattnaik

padmapur cracker making
Sivakasi is well known all over India for its firecracker factories. But, there’s a village in Odisha which makes locally handmade crackers & caters to the needs of whole Odisha which is Padmapur (ପଦ୍ମପୁର).

When Diwali season approaches, thus lesser known Padmapur (also spelled as Padampur) village under Salepur block, Cuttack becomes active with people from across the state coming here to buy crackers in wholesale rate. Padmapur village is famous for its locally made fire crackers mainly tala-fatka (ତାଳ ଫଟକା)(cracker made by winding palm leaves), rockets, anar, kumpi (କୁମ୍ପି) (earthen small flower pot cracker), bati (colored sticks), chocolate and hydro-bombs etc.

ଫୋଟୋ Tarini
ଫୋଟୋ Taranisen

Around 5,000 people & almost all of 700 households belonging to both the Hindu and the Muslim communities are engaged in this rather unorganized manufacturing business which is their livelihood for decades. Besides Diwali, the crackers are made to cater to the bulk requirements during Ganesh Puja, Dusshera, Kartik Purnima, marriage ceremonies & even celebrations like political functions.

Just imagine, over 30 crore ‘talafatkas’ (ତାଳ ଫଟକା) are annually manufactured in Padmapur & its adjoining villages & if the whole cracker making turnover of the area is considered, it must be running into crores.

Cracker manufacturing is a century-old tradition in Padampur and was started by one Ismail Khan who taught the technique to Sachidananda Mohanty, Nanda Swain and Gandharba Swain. Over the years, manufacturing hand made fire crackers has evolved as a cottage industry in Padmapur. Surprisingly, there are only four to five licensed manufacturers & among the others, some get temporary license to sell crackers for couple of days only. Usually, crackers from Padmapur are exported to various places in Odisha such as Paradip, Sambalpur, Rajnagar, Dhenkanal, Baripada, Barang, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. But, traders from neighboring Jharkhand and Bihar also place orders as per their requirements.

bati sticks-photo by tarani Factors affecting the seasonal business of cracker incl. cost of raw materials like palm leaf, wood of Calotropis plant (arakha gachha), gunpowder and labour charges. Middlemen eats away the poor manufacturer’s profit, but pockets enough profits in the process. Also, intermittent rain acts as a spoiler in cracker making which starts off soon after Ganesh Puja (Sep).

Every year minor & major accidents occurs resulting even in death of people, but till now, no efforts have been made to ensure safety of the manufacturers. Children often bunk classes to help their family in cracker making. Restrictions from govt on high decibel bombs, license issue & child labour issue, police interference regarding illegal bomb making & accidents during cracker making are the major hindrances. Moreover, nearby villages of Trilochanpur, Mahajanpur, Purbakachha, Madhyakachha, Paga-Bahugram, Hatikana, Champati, Bahadalpatna and Jangapatna have also started cracker manufacturing, thereby affecting Padmapur’s business.

Despite being called the Sivakasi of Odisha/Orissa, Padmapur village was yet to get recognition from the state government that gives direct/indirect employment to hundreds of youth in that area. Despite the risk to life and property of those in the cracker manufacturing business, a lot of people in the village have taken up the profession in this unorganized industry. sivakasi of odisha.

By Taranisen Patnaik

A freelancer on Odisha & its culture | Blogger |Matchbox Collector| Founder http://aitiha.com/