Chakkliyars (Sakkliyar) is a Dalit community of manual scavengers that migrated to Kochi from Tamil Nadu.

Chakkliyars (Sakkliyar) is a Dalit community of manual scavengers that migrated to Kochi in during the middle of 20th century from areas bordering Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. 

As the local manual scavengers rose in protest for an increase in wages in the 1950 the Chakkliyars were roped in. Presently, there are about 90 families in Rameshwaram Colony near Fort Kochi.

Being the nature of the work that they did, the elder community members have stories of how they were treated with utmost contempt by the other denizens. Since the advent of septic tanks and other more scientific ways of human excreta disposal, the lives of Sakkliyars have improved considerably. 

The language that they use within the community is a rare blend of Tamil and Telugu. The community preserve their cultural identity and to till day celebrate Tamil festivals like Mattupongal, Krishipongal etc. 

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION BY BIJU IBRAHIM: COMMUNITIES OF KOCHI

Places have souls and Mattancherry in the city of Kochi has a mystic one. Biju Ibrahim discovered this while documenting the lives of Kochi’s 38 communities through black and white pictures. Distinct in layers of identities – caste, faith, language, ethnicity and region – these communities have been welcomed over centuries and have, in turn, infused Mattancherry and Kochi with a rare and rich heritage. Historically, it has been home to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus. The sea and port attracted sailors, traders from Arabia and Gujarat, preachers of Semitic faiths, colonisers such as the Dutch and Portuguese, political refugees and migrant labourers. A cross-section of India lives here in a radius of 5 kilometers. 

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AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER

BIJU IBRAHIM

He captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic & mystery of spaces & places, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before.

ART ORGANISATION

URU ART HARBOUR

URU art harbour is a cultural hub situated at Kochi. URU seeks to be a space for collaboration and a continual hub for artistic, cultural, and intellectual exploration. Founded by Riyas Komu and Zoya Riyas.

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