monsoon is a time of festivals. Here Kumbharwada residents prepare
a small boy to represent Krishna for the God's birthday celebrations.
He will be dressed up to represent the God and then taken round the
quarter in procession.
Dharavi is associated in most people's minds with two industries:
tanning and potteries. Kumbharwada, the pottery district, takes up
a large section of the slum and, like Chamra Bazar, dates back to
the beginning of the last century. Nearly every building houses a
pottery workshop on the ground floor, and the wide lanes are occupied
by the kilns, fired with cotton waste and sawdust.
The Kumbhars seem to have a great fondness for festivals and processions.
Certainly during the month of August they hold a number of celebrations,
usually preceded by a visit to a temple, after which the procession,
headed by a loudspeaker mounted on a bicycle, winds its way through
the interminable lanes of Dharavi, doubling back on itself and squeezing
in single file through narrow openings to its destination, either
the nearby sea or another temple. The leader chants a hymn, over-amplified
and distorted by the loudspeaker, which is taken up and repeated by
the remainder of the procession. The lanes are crowded with people
gawping, shouting to each other over the appalling noise of the loudspeaker
or hanging up their washing and cleaning their pots and pans on their
doorsteps. Over all is the smoke of the pottery kilns or, as we approach
the sea, the smell of fish and the nets hanging out to be repaired.