Bhisti Community, who used to provide water to Kolkata’s inhabitants, is slowly disappearing.
Zaffar recently noticed that ‘Bhisti’ people, who used to bring water to his workshop and to other local shops in the area, have vanished. “I roamed around the city, looking for them, but I encountered only a small number of these people. Ten years back they were everywhere, but now they have almost disappeared.”, said Zaffar. The Bhisti community used to provide water to nearly the entire city, carrying it in a 20 litres bag made of goat skin. Although they were a Muslim community, ‘Bhistis’ still provided water to both Non-Muslims and Muslims across the city.
Bhistis are slowly shifting jobs, most of them usually going back to farming or other manual labor jobs, because their traditional occupation of water-carriers does not enable them to make a decent living anymore. “Water supply has steadily increased in the city, the number of taps have sharply risen up, so people do not need water from the Bhistis anymore” explained Zaffar.
However, water supply remains irregular and unreliable. Thus, the ‘Bhistis’ still retain their role in certain areas of the city, providing 14 to 17 people per day. Zaffar hopes that the ‘Bhistis’ do not vanish completely from the city and that this practice will be kept alive