Kathputli Colony – Before and After Rehabilitation

Before Relocation

The spinning earth with dynamic cosmic energies and variable wavelengths is rotating, skewing and stretching every individual’s world. Luck, magic, illusion, wizardry, horoscopy and occultism; all being delusional words of perception are diluting the sagacity of being in the absolute tangible world. As we strolled through the majestic lanes of Kathputli colony, Shadipur Depot, New Delhi, I could recall every expression from Salman Rushdie’s book – Midnight Children. He glorified the ‘Jadui’ ghetto full of magicians, street artists, puppeteers, dancers, snake charmers, acrobats, singers, actors, traditional healers, and instrumentalists. The art is self incepted and caressed to perfection by each individual.


‘Bhoole Bisre Kalakaro ki basti’ is what they call it, as the art is dying and the artists are dying from the death of art. Vinod, who belongs to Rajasthan, is carrying the family’s legacy of manipulating the strings of self made dolls and storytelling for the sole reason to entertain his audience. His experiences are vivid and waving in every respect. His artist neighbors from the slum are frequent visitors of Middle Eastern and European countries. But, the visits are short and not wealthy enough to keep them away from the narrow drains of the slum. The locality was a garland of cocoon where all the residents are tied with pieces of art, and children are willingly learning the traditional activities.

The originators of World famous Indian Rope Trick, Indian Basket Trick and Mango Trick had been the residents of this colony. Their progenies know the secrets to perform these tricks and are still trying their best to preserve the street art; but we, the progenies of fictional science, addicted to technical aspects of life are unaware of the esoteric virtuosity. We move on the rhythms of electronic dance music and we put the tunes of Dholak into oblivion. While the residents of Kathputli colony breathe on the nuances of traditional art forms.

After Relocation

Relocated from Kathputli Colony, Shadipur Depot, the residents faced a lot of problems to settle down. We fear, they might lose on the cultural heritage in the pretext of rehabilitation. Having said that, it is also true that their skills relocated too.

The transit camps are similar to refugee camps. It is one of its kinds of experiment for the redevelopment of the slum by DDA. The residents have inhibitions and concerns due to lack of trust for the authorities. DDA persuaded quite a few residents to shift but the relocation becomes useless, if adequate facilities are not provided. The artist used to get most of their work through phones, so change of location should not be a concern but small businesses were affected.

Anthropologists redefine the word ‘place’ by stating that ‘it is the way through which people constitute sense of being’.

“Social World is not confined to a particular place or marked by a boundary”.

-Emmanuel Marx

We truly hope that mental world of the residents of Kathputhli colony never gets disturbed.

Geographical relocation might be empowering if the residents are in a happy state of mind, which could result in social and material gains. But, one thing is for sure, every element of Kathputli Colony made it the ‘Jadui Ghetto’, we need to relocate all these elements – the physical, psychological and emotional elements.





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