Migrants : Doll makers in Chennai

Travelling to a new place to do business and earn money is been a part of history for a long time. Some have become great men, some have become hero to their families and some have gone unnoticed. This is not the story of one man. It is the story of many families who earn their living in Chennai by making idols made of plaster of Paris. They travel as groups from Rajasthan, Gujarat and other parts of north India. They come here to clear their personal debts and earn money for their future.

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Every day they work hard to make idols like Ganesh, muruga and saibaba by pouring plaster of Paris into their respective molds. They allow it to get solidified and then remove the mold after a day or two. After the idols were ready the women in the family will use different colors to paint the idols and make them ready for sale.

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The dolls which are ready for sale are taken in tricycles to different wholesale purchasers. Sometimes they even take the idols to residential areas and sell them in retail instead of giving them to wholesalers. The peak time for their business is during Ganesh chathurthi during which they get bulk order to make large sized Ganesh idols.

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Their hard work made them outsource manufacture of all Ganesh idols for Ganesh chathurthi which was made in a place called kosapet a decade back. The replacement of clay with plaster of Paris brought this change.

Their entire season is from 3-6 months within which they should earn all the money required to support their family’s daily bread and their travel expenses to their native. There are around 50-60 families in Chennai doing this business. They are located in different parts of Chennai like manali, thirumullaivoyal, vyasarpadi etc.

In the middle of all these corporate lifestyle and technological advancement which can still see people struggle hard for their daily wages. Apart from sharing happiness and sadness as a family, they also share work and burden involved in the business. That is what makes them happy in spite of what they do and where they live.

These images is just an effort to depict their casual activities on a regular day

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Holi celebrations in Chennai

It was only in the last year I came to know that Holi is celebrated in Chennai (seriously!).That day I decided that I should somehow photograph the next Holi, my dream came true today morning. I reached sowcarpet at 6.30 in the morning. I joined my group Chennai weekend clickers (CWC) and started walking into Mint Street, where the biggest Holi celebration in Chennai happens every year.

There was no activity until 8 AM. Until then we were looking for normal street shots and kids portraits along the streets. At around 8, we got information that Holi celebrations were started in a nearby place called “Rajasthan ground”. As soon as we reached the place, we could see the color dust sprinkled over everywhere. That was a good sign. From that moment on we were dragged into the world of colors. We clicked pictures until 11 AM. I skipped breakfast and realized it only after reaching home. We were clicking with full energy and got a lot of colorful shots.

Especially the moment, where we were ran in a narrow lane to escape buckets of colored water and water balloons were super cool. I felt like I am in a video game. It was awesome!! . This is the reason festivals are celebrated. To bring out the joy in you. To do things that will make you feel like a kid and make you forget everything else in the world. Holi is one such festival that brings out the joy in you. On the whole, it was one of the best photography experiences till now. My thought is, if this is so much fun here how will it be in the northern regions. My next year target is north!!

I made a small series on Flickr called Faces of Holi – A small series of portraits taken today. I am happy to share it with you. Please take a look and give in your comments.

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holi 01

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NOTE: For those who missed Holi this year, don’t miss it next time! Even if you don’t have a camera just come and have fun!!