The light of the candle is dimming this Diwali while the diya and the miniature decorative bulbs are burning bright.
The trade puts it down to the sudden spurt in the price of paraffin wax — and therefore candles — plus consumer preference for the diya, both traditional and trendy.
“This year, there is about a 40 per cent fall in the production of candles. As a result, the price of candles has risen and they are far slimmer,” says Samir De, general secretary of West Bengal Wax Based Industries Association.
“Last year, a packet (six pieces) cost Rs 5. This year, that has risen to Rs 8. The big candles that used to cost Rs 80, now costs Rs 135,” he adds.
In the past couple of months, the price of paraffin wax has gone up from Rs 40,000 per metric tonne to Rs 63,000 per metric tonne.
Every year, candle-making starts from Janmashtami and continues till Diwali, churning out nearly 1,100 metric tonne. This festive season, however, the output is expected to dip to 700 metric tonnes.
“In the past year, the price of crude oil has gone up from $ 45 a barrel to $ 70 a barrel. As a result, the price of paraffin wax extracted from crude oil has also risen. This hike is also an outcome of the increased price of paraffin wax in the international market,” explained an official of Indian Oil Corporation.
More and more buyers are leaning towards decorative miniature lights, especially those imported from China. “These are very popular; a single chain costs no more than Rs 25-30,” says Sundar Tiwari, a shop-owner in New Market.
At the other end of the electrical lights spectrum are the ones embellished with Swarovski crystals at Mahal Lamp Shades to the traditional-techno combos at Shoppers’ Stop and Steeljunction. A set of four diyas and a thali comes for around Rs 300.
But the shift to the diya has been the most pronounced. “The diya was always popular among non-Bengalis, but in the past couple of years, it has become a favourite among all. This year, the sale has doubled following the price hike of candles,” reveals Vishnu Sharma in Burrabazar.
From earthen lamps in traditional shapes to designer ones, there’s no end to the variety of wick wonders that promise to dispel darkness.
Ornamental holders, for 21 to 50 diyas, at NikNish and Landmark are a rage. They are priced between Rs 1,400 and Rs 4,000 and “can be used almost like a Christmas tree”, points out a shopper.
As far as the price tag on the decorative diya goes, high silver ones in peacock design go up to Rs, 75,000.