Sonars, also known as Konkani Daivanja Brahmin, is a Hindu caste referring to people who work as goldsmiths. 

Their forefathers, like the other Konkani speaking communities in Kochi fled Portuguese inquisition and settled in Kochi. In Kochi they were granted religious and occupational freedom. 

As time passed on, they became an integral part of the society. This integration was facilitated, among other reasons, by the demand for exceptionally crafted gold ornaments, at which they were skilled at. They made ornaments for all irrespective of caste and religious differences. The knowledge that the older generations of Sonars possessed was immense and their designs, which bear a stamp of their artistry, are non-replicable. 

Despite serious intermingling with the other communities, Sonars in Kochi still retain their cultural uniqueness. The history of the community, and the excruciating pain that their forefather were subjected to in Goa during the Portuguese inquisition is preserved and transmitted through folklores. Even their surnames bears the semblances of their lost motherland, often indicating the places where they originated from.  

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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