Udhampur (Jammu and Kasmir) [India], May 19 (ANI): Mohammad Shafi, a 77-year-old resident of Langa village in Panchayat Marta, Ramnagar tehsil of Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur district, has dedicated his life to pottery, preserving this fading art. For Shafi and his family, pottery is more than a skill; it's a way of life.Shafi has been in the profession for the last 60 years, learning the craft from his father, a master potter who passed the tradition on to generations.Speaking with ANI, Shafi explained how earthen pots have served people for ages, used for cooking, eating, and cooling; these earthen utensils have been the medium of life for several years. "We have been making these pots for centuries. People used to cook and eat food in them. Unlike refrigerators, these earthen pots have numerous health benefits," said Shafi.Shafi also advocates for the usefulness and eco-friendliness of earthenware. In an era dominated by refrigerators, he explains the benefits of earthenware to the people."In the old days, people used 'ghadas' to cool water, but now refrigerators have taken over, which can be hazardous to health. We have been making these pots for centuries. It's our responsibility to keep this tradition alive so that people can have access to clean, healthy and safe drinking water," he stated.Shafi also explains how earthen pots naturally cool water through evaporation, keeping it fresh and pure. Unlike refrigerators, they don't emit harmful radiation, which can have negative health consequences.Reflecting on the potential of the profession, Shafi shared, "Initially, I earned Rs 100-150 a day, but now, the potential has increased significantly. One can earn up to Rs 3000-5000 a day, depending on the hard work and efforts."Starting his craftsmanship in childhood, Shafi continues to create a variety of clay products, including kulhads (clay cups), matkas (earthen pitchers), ghadas (large pots), diyas (oil lamps), and more, which are then sold in local markets. A similar story unfolds with the various residents of Kashmir, who have been serving this profession as the epitome of craftsmanship.Saima, a girl from Kashmir, has not only revived the dying art but has also become a youth influencer, inspiring a new generation to embrace the pottery wheel.Similarly, Shaheena, a young girl from a potter family in Budgam who used to secretly practice at the wheel, is now flourishing her skills in creating exquisite pieces of artistry.Pottery, for potters, is more than just a skill; it's a way of life. For generations, potters have been the original eco-warriors, using natural materials and techniques to create essential utensils to provide the warmth and touch of mother nature to their fellow beings. (ANI)

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