Religious and Ritual Series on the Ganges, Kolkata, India

Nimtala is a region of Kolkata adjacent to the Ganges river. Upstream from the Howrah Bridge and behind the always smoking Cremation Ghats are a community of people which live either side of the Kolkata Circular Railway line. The conditions here have been described as some of the worst conditions of urban poverty in Kolkata. The one roomed shacks can accommodate up to 10 family members and family life is conducted mostly outside either on or besides the railway line. Every 20 minutes a train rumbles through and the line must be vacated, all the shacks vibrate and residents hug the sidelines until the train has passed. Various charities provide assistance to the families and children are encouraged to attend local schools.

I visited the community on 2 separate occasions on this trip, but have also visited before. It begins at the Nimtala railway crossing, next to the auspicious Kali temple and the cremation complex, and extends almost as far as Ahiritola Ghat, lining both sides of the railway line. By day there are mostly women and children present; men are mostly away working or looking for work. Some women undertake work with flowers obtained from the nearby flower market, making ceremonial garlands for resale, perhaps back at the market. people walk up and down the line selling mostly food.