While wandering through different places in India, I love to know different stories and cultures attached to every single place because there are many. This hunger of good story this time took me to a familiar place to discover a different story and bring it to the world through the art of photography.
This experience is about my journey to capture the lotus fields of West Bengal. The pastel pink lotuses complimenting the tidy white with the greens is a sight that can never leave me dull. Lotuses in West Bengal are not only known for their beauty but also play an integral part in the cultural ecosystem.
According to the customs, the famous Sandhi Puja doesn’t even start without 108 of these lotus flowers. The cultures often burn a hole in everyone’s pockets. But what saddened me is the fact that the producers of these farmers have the smallest share in the profit while their work has the largest contribution to the same. It’s depressing to see capitalism snatch the credit for the diligence and dedication of months from these farmers from the lotus fields of West Bengal. The flower traders or middlemen at Mallickghat make good business by selling 100 loti at Rs. 500. When everybody is making money out of this business, why the producers, been left in the lurch? This is not only unfair but also misdeed because the farmers are clueless and earning the least despite the struggle.
Adding on the list of struggles, one of the lotus growers also told me about the yielding of the flower getting dropped by every year. This has forced the traders to get dependent on the import due to the high demands. And hence, the few lotus growers left are struggling in terms of sales. Storage facilities are also far from the farms. This makes it difficult and expensive on their extent too.
Along with the above-stated problems, there are many other adding on. Including, the shortage of rains, lack of rainfall when flowers need it, fly ash deposits from thermal power plants in the vicinity and the sludge from paper mills are reasons for low yield.
40% of the total lotus growers have now shifted to different crops due to these problems and maybe, many more that never come to our notice as commoners. It’s always important to ensure that we help the needy by giving them business. It might not be possible in every single situation but let’s try and make it work in everywhere it is. It does make a difference, we assure.
And, if this makes a difference in even 1% of all the readers about how and whom will they consider to buy flowers from, I will be successful in bringing the lotus fields of West Bengal to the world.
Surit Datta, a photographer based in the “City of Joy”, Kolkata. My keen interest lies in clicking self-portraits, street photography and narrating stories through my art and eye. With my experiences and journeys, I bring to people unheard stories that are heart touching and compelling.