Trades and professional practices have always been intertwined with the caste system in India. Each caste and its sub-sets would stereotype an individual and dictate their occupational practice.

Since the early 1800s, people were not allowed to deviate from their fixed professions or they would be outlawed by society. At the time, social morals reflected ignorance and strong attachment to orthodox beliefs.

The tradition of professions and trades being passed down the line from father to son, continued for generations until recently when globalization and rapid socio-economic change resulted in the problem of enculturation and automation. At that point, many of the age-old practices faded out, while others are currently on their way to extinction.  The modern Indian generation refuses to stick to their ancestral professions and trades; they have become more daring and try to switch to more lucrative business possibilities.

The abandonment of the traditional practices also result from insufficient incomes, a desire to escape the caste stereotypes, the constant neglect of the privileged classes of the society these people serve, and a government that is not open to social reforms.

Global trends are constantly changing. Therefore, in these frantic times, it's very easy to forget our past, culture and traditions. I am not opposed to modernization, but at the same time, I want to slow things down and force one’s self to recognize and remember the beauty of these analog practices. As a photographer, I want to use my craft to pay respect to these tradesmen and bring them to light.

— Supranav Dash


Editor's Note: Supranav Dash submitted this work to the 2013 LensCulture Exposure Awards. This series was one of 25 finalists.