Meet the Artisans – Dalit
The distinctive candle pots from Dalit are hand made in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai in India. This is the world’s most densely populated place where 1 million people live in a square mile. It is home to some 300 potters and their families. Traditionally this work is only done by Dalits, (who were formerly known as untouchables) as the higher castes consider it dirty work as it comes from the ground. The candle pots are hand filled by Dalit ladies in the company’s own, small production unit. This provides valuable employment and empowerment to women who would otherwise struggle to find work.
The beautiful soapstone tealight holders and vases are hand carved from solid stone in Agra, near the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh. This work is also done by Dalits.
The fabulous Dalit spices are sourced in India as grade A export quality. The jars are hand filled and packed in the company’s production unit and all the packaging is handmade in the Dharavi slum. Most of the recipes in the recipe book have been sourced by them from chefs in India.
Dalits are traditionally expected to drink from clay cups as they would be disposable to avoid contaminating the higher castes. It was this symbol of their oppression that inspired the launch of the Dalit Goods Co brand. Dalit means downtrodden or oppressed and is the name by which they prefer to be called. Dalit Goods Co exists therefore, primarily to raise awareness of the Dalit plight. It is the trading arm of Life Association – a charity that has been building and managing schools and children’s homes in India for 20 years, and as such covers most of the charities overheads.