TONK: “Last year I went to various cities and villages in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra. I travelled for nine months of the year selling ayurvedic medicine to train passengers and passersby. This whole year has gone in the lockdown and I have no other source of livelihood,” says Ibrahim Qalander, a salesman who is stuck in his basti.
The Qalandar basti in Tonk, Rajasthan has an unusual number of people for this time of the year. The pandemic has all but severed the livelihoods of these artisans, who cannot work from home. Salesmen and artists who rely on crowded spaces have been hit the hardest.
Qalandars are a nomadic community most of whom who live in parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. They say they are descendants of Bu Ali Shah Qalandar, a Sufi pir from Panipat, Haryana who lived in the thirteenth century.
Known in Mughal times for breeding and keeping horses, they later began travelling…