Published in Kochi Post
A few days before the mighty Pongala festival that falls every year during the Malayalam month of Kumbham, the host city of Trivandrum rearranges itself to accommodate all the knick knacks that comes with the festival season. Of the lot, the most visible being the red mud pots that suddenly crop up on the sidewalks of the commercial heart of the city, and with it comes a bunch of sellers in all colours and hues.
Walking past these sights for more than four years, some of the seller faces have turned so familiar that they exchange memories from the previous years. Thankamma, a seller whom I have been meeting since 2008 began by exchanging her grief on loss of her husband two years ago. Another seller Sulochana laments of all the photos journos have taken without any benefits in near sight.
Beyond the chitchats, its serious business on the side walks that brings thousands of mud pots to the city perhaps making it the biggest mud pot market in the country. With loss of paddy lands and dwindling clay resources Kerala rarely makes clay pots these days, and for such huge occasions the pots come entirely from the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. A pot seller for 20 years, Thankamma see a slump in sales this year but hopes to see it all pick up by the festival hours.
According to the sellers, the prices have gone up this year by Rs.2 to Rs.7 compared to last year. As the bargaining heightens, young Anjana and her mother fix on a single pot while 70-year-old Lakshmi decides to stick with her three aluminium pots to make travel more convenient.
With every passing year, convenience takes away the place of tradition making way for more and more steel and aluminum pots at the festival. Before these sellers step away from the traditional pot selling, the annual gala of mud pots and their sellers captured through the lens.