Meenakshi Ammal family get electric furnace
Meenakshmi Ammal’s family, which has been making ghatams for four generations, has finally established an electric furnace for firing the clay pot instruments, thanks to the benevolence of ghatam artistes all over the world.
K. Ramesh (48), son of Meenakshi Ammal who died recently, has set up the furnace at a cost of ₹8 lakh after ‘Sumana Foundation’, launched by Sumana Chandrashekar, a Bengaluru-based Carnatic vocalist and ghatam artiste, helped with financial support of ₹4 lakh.
He has been using the furnace, set up adjacent to his house, for the past four months. Earlier, the family suffered a loss as the pots fired in the old system got damaged often, and the electric furnace has come as a boon for it.
Thanks to the controlled temperature in the electric furnace, they minimised damage and salvaged more than 60% of the ghatams, as against 30% to 40% saved in the old system, Mr. Ramesh said. “Now we could produce ghatams with superior tones in electric furnace,” he said.
It took 10 to 12 hours for firing a set of 20 ghatams and another 12 hours for cooling them. A one-time firing consumed 200 units of power, he said, and appealed to the government to reduce the tariff from ₹6.50 per unit, considering him as a rural artisan.
The family produced 300 to 350 ghatams in a year and sold a ghatam at ₹700 to ₹800, though Amazon.com sold a ghatam at around ₹ 5,000.
Ghatam artistes from India and foreign countries, including the US, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Mauritius, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia, came all the way to Manamadurai to buy the instrument of their choice, he said.