Some 40 odd antique shops that line up the historic Jew Street in Mattancherry are owned by Kashmiris.

As political turbulence in Kashmir heightened in the early 90s many decided to migrate to other parts of the world. For some of them Kochi became an option as during those time the place was slowly developing in a tourism hotspot. 

Kashmiris are relatively a smaller community, with the official record books suggesting a total of 45 Kashmiri families. They are mostly into handicrafts retailing. Some 40 odd antique shops that line up the historic Jew Street in Mattancherry are owned by Kashmiris. 

They are a relatively secluded community. According to the community members, when they arrived initially they were viewed suspiciously and this had forced them to remain kind of secluded. But things have improved considerably since then. Some of them have married local women. But most of the Kashmiris still maintain relationships with their motherland which they strengthen with an annual visits to the valley. 

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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