Inspired by Chinese books, this Assam village is making firecrackers for over 100 years

Sivakasi firecrackers are famous in the market.
Guwahati, Oct 22: An Assam village has been making firecrackers for over a 100 years and has now got a logo that will help it distinguish from the hugely popular Sivakasi products.

The traditional firecracker makers in Ganak Kuchi village in Assam's Barpeta district are determined to make their presence felt, at least in the markets of Assam this time.

They face tough competition from the firecrackers made in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.

The Assam village recently got its logo designed by the National Institute of Design (NID).

"This logo will give us an identity and help us stand out in the market. There have been fire crackers from Sivakasi which have been flooding the markets in Assam and other states of the country during the Deepawali festival, said Gopajit Pathak, president of the Barpeta Atasbaji Silpi Samabai Samity, an organisation of the artisans involved in making the firecrackers for generations.

"People are not aware which firecrackers are made in Sivakasi and which are made in Barpeta. The logo will help the people identify our firecrackers and they would surely buy those made in Barpeta," Pathak added.

The artisans involved in the Barpeta firecracker units have already prepared 30 to 35 varieties of crackers and sparklers this season and are now expecting to sell firecrackers to the tune of Rs 70 to 80 lakh.

"Although we supply less than 10 per cent of fire crackers to the markets in Assam during the festival, the new logo will gradually help us make an own identity. If we succeed this time, we would increase the volume from next time onwards," Pathak said.

The Pathaks have been making firecrackers since 1885.

Gopajit's grandfather, Lakhiram Pathak, was inspired to make firecrackers after going through a Chinese book that was translated into Bengali. The book gave him an idea of cracker-making techniques and he started the first unit in 1885.

The firecrackers in Barpeta are made mostly with hands and minimum use of machines.

About 2,000 workers are directly or indirectly employed in the firecracker industry at Ganak Kuchi village.

The artisans use earthen pots and more organic materials in the making the crackers and sparklers.

Ranjit Das, an artisan involved in making the crackers, said: "Firecrackers from Sivakasi continue to dominate the markets, (but) people are gradually going for our products due to public awareness about supporting a local industry."

Pathak added: "The most important difference between our products and those of others is that ours contain less pollutants. Guwahati is our main market but we also supply to other northeastern states."


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