By Shillpi A Singh
After making waves with handcrafted bamboo bottles, bamboo shoot cookies, and bamboo rice, the Tripura government recently introduced eco-friendly bamboo candles. These beautifully crafted bamboo candles are the handiwork of the local communities living in Mohanbhog RD Block and Nalchar RD Block, both in Sepahijala district.
Chief Minister of Tripura Biplab Kumar Deb recently introduced eco-friendly bamboo candles crafted by women SHG members from Mohanbhog and Nalchar blocks in Sepahijala district, Tripura.
For the uninitiated, the landlocked state in the North East is one of the major bamboo producing states in India. Bamboo has unique livelihood importance among a majority of the population and going by the recent initiatives undertaken by the state government, it has also become a sustainable choice for employment generation here.
Talking more about this initiative undertaken by artisans living in South Taibandal village, Narayan Chandra Majumder, Block Development Officer, Mohanbhog RD Block, says, “These products are the brainchild of Vishwasree B, IAS, DM and Collector of Sepahijala district, Tripura, who introduced this idea and initiated these local men and women into making bamboo candles.”
Sanjib Chakma, Block Development Officer, Nalchar RD Block, couldn’t agree more with him because he believes that sometimes it is an idea is all that it takes to bring about a change and serve as an inspiration to spark off activity and develop something aesthetically beautiful. “These women are expert in craftsmanship, and the idea of making bamboo candles shared by Sepahijala District Magistrate & Collector enthused these SHG women of Bagabassa GP under Nalchar RD Block. They lapped up the opportunity because they could visualise the product and have managed to realise this dream through their artistry and hard work,” quips Chakma.
Dipali Paul, one of the women from Bagabassa Gram Panchayat under Nalchar RD Block, who has been working on these bamboo candles, was full of praise for the district administration officials. “I can’t thank them enough for all that they have done for us. They came up with this ingenious idea and proposed it to a bunch of us. Initially, only a handful of us were involved in this bamboo candle making unit. Today more and more women are joining this initiative because it gives economic independence,” says Paul.
Dipali Paul, one of the women from Bagabassa Gram Panchayat under Nalchar RD Block, who has been working on these bamboo candles.
These candles produced by SHG members in Sipahijala come with double benefits – they reduce air pollution and generate employment opportunities for local communities. “The Self-Help Groups under the National Rural Livelihood Mission and Tripura Rural Livelihood Mission comprise women belonging to different communities, who are working together with a common goal of economic empowerment,” adds Chakma.
These candles have been designed aesthetically and have an inner coating of a mud diya so that they don’t catch fire when lit. The men and women source bamboo from local farmers while mud diyas fitted inside the bamboo are procured from the local potter, and wax and wick are bought from the local market. “These bamboo candles have the potential to generate employment among the rural population which is in tune with the vision of our Chief Minister,” said Majumder, who has been working closely with the local communities in the district.
The groundwork for making these candles started just before Durga Puja while the commercial production started a couple of days ago. The response has been overwhelming. Orders and enquiries are pouring in, and SHG women have been asked to increase the production of these candles.
The entire cycle of making a bamboo candle takes two days. The process includes sourcing best quality bamboo, cutting it into pieces, smoothening the rough edges, boiling the pieces to prevent termite attacks, and drying them in the sun. “Once it is dry as a bone, a mud diya is fitted inside, then molten wax is poured, and a wick fixed in it. The extra wax that would have spilt on the sides of the bamboo candles is cleaned, and finally, it is packaged with a bamboo cane. Some of these come with fine designs carved on them,” says Majumder.
The groundwork for making these candles started before Durga Puja while the commercial production started a couple of days ago; the response has been overwhelming. Orders and enquiries are pouring in, and SHG women have been asked to increase their production. “They have made a few hundred as of now and are working on scaling up the operation to cater to the growing demand,” adds Majumder.
There are two different packs of three bamboo candles on sale at the moment; one pack has two big candles, and one small and is priced at Rs 260 while the other one has two small candles and one big one priced at Rs 240.
The products are on display at stalls put up in the offices of local DM and Collector in Sepahijala and Tripura Rural Livelihood Mission in Agartala, and will soon be available at the Tripura Bhawan across the country. The district administration has been very supportive in helping to advertise and market the bamboo candles. “The Cluster Coordinator and the Block Mission Manager (BDO), Block Mission Management Unit, TRLM, Nalchar RD Block have been actively coordinating with SHGs and encouraged these women to give their best in creating bamboo candles, which could serve as a vehicle for their economic stability and empowerment,” says Chakma.
Men giving finishing touches to the bamboo candles.