GLIMPSES OF SURVIVAL IN RURAL INDIA: Visual Art: Flavours of Cities, Towns or Villages


Bio-note: Puja Sardar is a Senior Research Fellow of Department of Geography, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India. She is currently working on the topic “Rural Architecture”. She has interest in travelling, photography and research in visual aspect. She has published and presented her papers in several national and International conferences.

This photo essay is about subsistence in rural life in India, mainly from Eastern Part of India. We know, India has a great diversity on its physiography, climate, soil, natural vegetation, people, culture and way of life. A large number of population of India are from rural. Their way of life, struggle for survival are different with physical and socio-economic circumstances. This essay is a short visual treat of different faces of way of life in rural. This glimpse of rural India is mainly taken from plains of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Tripura with focus on livelihood and struggle for life.

Fishing at inland water in Indian Sundarbans. A large people of the UNESCO World heritage site - the Indian Sundarban Biosphere Reserve is dependent on fishing activity.
Preparing for Fishing: Men and women of fisherman community of the Indian Sundarban are repairing fishing nets before fishing. Fishing in the murky waters of the Sunderbans braving the threat of the Dakshinray or the notorious Royal Bengal tiger, is their only occupation for survival. 
Sowing Season in rural Bengal: On the other side of the spectrum of struggle for subsistence, with men braving choppy waters fierce predators for fishing, are the toiling farmers. Most agricultural families spend their entire day in agricultural fields during sowing and harvesting season in India. This visual of paddy cultivation is taken from a village of Purba Medinipore, West Bengal, during the wet monsoons when the men defy incessant showers to sow their crops.
Harvesting Time: Entire family of cultivators are busy to drying paddy. This visual is also taken from a village of Purba Medinipur during dry winter season.
Winter in rural Bengal- Farmer bring harvesting crops at home. It’s a joyful moment to every cultivator’s family in rural India. This popular visual is taken from a village near the State border of Bengal and Jharkhand in Birbhum district. As dusk descends, cart full of harvest is carried home with harvest festivities knocking on the door, symbolised by the temple.
Fodder collection in dry winters in Majuli Island, Assam- Man collecting straw for cattle. Majuli, a river island in Brahmaputra River in Assam, gets flooded almost every year. So, the dry season is significant to the cattle herders and men engaged in animal husbandry for their survival and livelihood.
Crop threshing: A Cultivator family is busy in threshing mustard seeds during winter at their courtyard. Not only paddy, but also there are variety of crops produce in Bengal as well as in India. This visual is taken from a village of Birbhum in West Bengal.
‘Haat’ (weekly market) in Rural Bengal. In remote rural areas, ‘Haat’, which is organized once or twice in a week, is a significant socio-economic space for local farmers. 
Life in forest: A man collects Saal leaf from a forest in Birbhum the heat of dry summer. It is one of the popular earning sources of forest villagers as Saal leaves are woven into plates for local sweetmeat shops and eateries. 
Childhood in Majuli- Pristine joy and innocence of rustic children are playing in a tributary of Brahmaputra in dry winter season.
Girlhood in rural India, Birbhum: Another face of childhood. A girl in school uniform collects grass [fodder] for cattle. Childhood is not only about games and joy, but also about tons of responsibilities for subsistence struggle in poor rural India.
Life in Wetland: A traditional fisherman searching small fish at Rudrasagar Lake- a Ramsar Wetland in Tripura, India. Livelihood of many fishermen of surrounding area are dependent on this wetland.
Shrimp cultivation in coastal village of Purba Medinipur, West Bengal. Many paddy cultivators of coastal area are shifting their occupation towards shrimp culture in remote corners of rural India for survival.
Fish drying is another important livelihood of coastal people. This visual is taken from Junput in Purba Medinipur District, West Bengal, India.

Life in Chilika, Orissa- A traditional fisherman fishing in Chilika lake- the largest coastal lagoon of India. Surrounding villagers of the lake are dependent in various ways on the lake. 

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