She calls herself as ‘Chhupa Rustam’, or the one with a hidden talent but never talks about it. True to her own description, Maya Sadhwani has never really cared about coming to the limelight with her wonderful work of art. She mastered the art of candle-making almost 20 years back and is still making marvellous masterpieces as a passion. Her creations are an attraction to many of her friends and buyers who wait eagerly each Dhanteras and Diwali to light up their homes with her handmade products, sold under her brand, Wax n Flame. “I never felt it necessary to promote what I was doing. Because it’s a hobby that keeps me going all year round. I feel happy when people appreciate my work. That’s my greatest reward,” said Maya. Candle-making also gave Maya the opportunity to make an everlasting bond with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. She had presented to the Missionaries of Charity a five feet tall 10-inch thick candle on Mother Teresa’s death in 1997. “The candle was lit next to her body for the next few days. After that they kept it away and used it for special occasions. I gift a three feet candle every year on her birth anniversary,” said Maya.
Thick wax candles embellished with stones, glitters and many other kinds of decorations are amongst Maya’s collection. In some she makes a bunch of beautiful wax roses to decorate them. Maya’s collection is a galore of creative ideas. “It takes me a minimum of three days to make an elaborate pattern of roses with a thick round candle,” said Maya. Candles that look like scoops of ice cream in a glass, or a bowl of rosogollas can be found in her collection, all made by her. “I give classes only once a year when I teach a small group of 15 to 20 people how to make candles. I teach them how to make these as well,” she said. Maya also gets orders to make emissary candles, birthday candles and Diwali candles.
Her home in Ballygunge Circular Road is her workshop where she toils hard through the day to make the masterpieces. She also makes sets of two or three candles of different sizes along with a tissue box. These sets make very good gift items and lots of people buy for that purpose,” said Maya.
Maya learnt candle-making at a school in Cleveland, Ohio when her husband went on a business trip for three months. “I took a course for a month after which I would practice there. Once I returned to Calcutta, I started teaching underprivileged girls in my locality in Park Circus. I wanted them to learn how to make candles so that they could become self-sufficient,” said Maya. Through this effort, Maya also got associated with Mother Teresa. “I would visit Mother frequently and she would never refuse to see me. I would sit on the ground and massage her feet while she spoke to me,” recalls Maya. She had even taught candle-making to the nuns at Missionaries of Charity.