From Tanks to Lanterns: Havildar Samir Tamboli’s Artistic Journey of ‘Made in India’ Festive Delights

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Yerwada, 1st November 2023: When Havildar Samir Tamboli left the army in 2016, he had little idea of what he would do in the civil world. After all, he had served in the Armored Corps for over twenty years and tanks and the army were his life. 

He took his first tentative steps in the outside world, worked in the Corporate for four years with great success. As he pondered as to what he would do next, a turning moment arrived. He had gone to buy lanterns and Kandils for his home and discovered that virtually every one had a ‘Made in China’ stamp on it. Those were the days when Chinese actions in Ladakh and Galwan were ongoing and he decided that rather than buy a Chinese product, he would make his own.

Using scrap paper and sourcing out designs, he created a series of Akash Kandils – the decorative lanterns made of paper and cloth. He used his wife’s expertise in craft to cut and design them. The designs were of different shapes, sizes and unique in their own way – but one thing was common. Not a single component was from China or anywhere else. Each item was indigenously made and crafted in India and prepared by ex-servicemen and their families.

As word of his Akash Kandils spread, he hired other ex-servicemen and their families to meet the growing demand. He stored and displayed them in his own Store – The Tamboli Supermarket at Yerwada and began supplying to individuals, Army and Civil establishments. As he put it, “What began as a hobby, is now a full-fledged business. Our products are better, cheaper and proudly, ‘Made in India’.” 


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In just two years, his lanterns and festival decorations have become a huge hit. Not only did army units and establishment pick them up, individuals and societies thronged to his pick up these unique hand-made pieces. His designs too evolved and he moved to jute, waste plastic, and cloth and developed new designs for his kandils, Lanterns and festival decorations. As he told our reporter, “People seem to have liked my designs. I am finding it difficult to keep pace with the demands coming. But I am enjoying it.” .

Tamboli’s hand-crafted decorative lanterns and festival decorations are unique in the sense that each scrap of materiel he uses is Indian – not a single foreign component is used. His products are environmentally friendly and made of recycled material. And they look beautiful and seem to last from one festive season to the next.