By: Shariq Haider Naqvi, Ranish Hangloo, Pariksht Shingal.

From traditional household utensils to medical remedies, clay plays an integral part in the life of Indians.

Clay culture, an ancient form of art, is as fascinating as snake charmers and computer geeks that have captivated foreign audiences.

45 years old potter, Rajinder Singh, says he inherited this art from his father. Playing with clay was a childhood enthrallment that later became my profession. Rajinder’s wife Maya Devi who also makes clay pots however feels their children never showed any interest in this form of art.

Clay a refined form of soil is utilized extensively across India. Since the Harrapa civilization, clay has acclaimed traditional importance.

Singh adds with a witty humor that poor people in India still use earthen pots to store and cool water while refrigerators are a property for rich folks.

An age old history to support this form of art also tells about the sculpture making as a traditional craft.

While shaping fingers of an earthen goddess idol, Ajay Kumar Haldar, a sculpture maker says it is creativity mixed with interest, and use of clay in sculpture making is an interesting hobby.

In the recent times Plaster of Paris (POP) is proving biggest challenge for these creative clay artists. POP as compared to clay costs less and one does not need to slog much while designing sculptures.

Kamala Singh, a housewife who decorates her house with clay decorative says earthen pots have their own importance. During Diwali, (festival of lights), Diyas(small earthen pot) made of clay are still used to garnish houses and also Gamlas (earthen pot) are used to grow plants and are significant for those who want to make theirs gardens look good.

Not only for embellishment, clay is still, used by rural or poor class in India for plastering walls and make kuccha houses (temporary/ delicate).

Interestingly, ancient form of Indian medication, Ayurveda has also given importance of soil and its derivates for medical treatments.

Different form of clay can be used for curing ailments of liver, stomach and skin infections, says Dr. Tanuj Veerbhan an Ayurveda doctor.

Tanuj adds, those who want to keep cool state of mind should apply Multani Mitti (Herbal Clay) on their forehead when required.

Also Multani Mitti is used for cosmetics and beautification purposes too, and this is gaining popularity worldwide.

As herbal treatment does not have any side effects, one should use Multani Mitti to look young, said 20 years old Ghazala Naqvi who uses clay for beautification.

Unbelievably, a fraction of the Indian population takes clay to be a unique and clean material that is used for washing hands besides its other important uses.