Around 150 years ago, when Mumbai was largely swamp land, migrant potters from Gujarat arrived and have been there ever since. Some 300 families now live in the Dharavi slum, one of Asia’s largest and believed to be the most densely populated place on earth with 1 million people living within a square mile.
They are Dalits, formerly known as untouchables and considered outside India’s caste system. Only Dalits do this kind of work as it is considered unclean because they handle dirt from the earth. But we see things differently: As if by magic, from a lump of mud, in the hands of a skilled potter a small work of art appears that will go onto grace perhaps the table or window sill of elegant homes in England and abroad.
They are then hand poured by Dalit ladies in our own, small production unit – Before being packed and shipped to England.
It’s a great story but one that doesn’t end there. The work of Dalit Candles helped provide a loving home for children like Rahul who we have named one of our candles after. He was only 4 when his father was killed in a railway accident. With his mother unable to support him he was adopted into our boys home in Mumbai and has lived there ever since. Now 16 Rahul is achieving good results in his studies and at weekends enjoys helping with the candle business.