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The art of the puppeteers goes back close to 1,500 years. They were an essential part of every mela and festival in Rajasthan. The Rajasthani Bhat community are said to be the pioneers of this storytelling form.
Kathputli Colony is said to be the world’s largest community of street performers. The shanties, some of which are close to 60 years old, are small cramped quarters equipped with water and electricity. But this has been the home of Delhi’s grassroots craftspeople for the last few decades.
Resident of the Kathputli Colony, is Jagdish Bhatt, a famous puppeteer, who has performed in the US and Europe. Through the untiring efforts of a passionate few, the art lives on in this age of eletronica.
“It is convenient to use these people as cultural mascots but when we mistreat them, we erode India’s culture,” says Myna Mukherjee, director of an arts collective and gallery, Engendered, who has created both art and magic with Bhat and his group.