New Delhi, India – For over half-a-century, New Delhi’s Kathputli slum has been home to puppeteers, magicians, folk singers, painters, dancers, acrobats, jugglers and storytellers.
The artists first began moving into the area in the 1950s, which, at the time, was nothing more than a piece of vacant land beside a jungle in West Delhi. Their tent camp evolved into a tinsel slum called the Kathputli Colony, which translates into “the wooden puppets” colony.
Now the Delhi Development Agency, the government body that owns the land, is planning to clear the slum of its 20,000 residents to make way for a luxury retail development.
So far, around 405 families have taken up the government’s offer of buying homes at a reduced price, and many have already moved out to transit camps while the new blocks are being built.
But many other artist families, who have remained in the Kathputli Colony, are unsure if the government will provide them with flats or whether the accommodation offered will allow the next generation to continue their cultural traditions.