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The Toy Seller

Here she is the toy-seller at the potter's colony in Calcutta with her hand-made clay toys in the background. From her white saree one can tell that she's a widow. But in dying her hair black she makes quite a statement. Widows in India were so despised that even till about 60 years ago, they'd be burnt alive on their dead husbands pyres. However, even when this practise, called sati, was banned, widows continued to face social ostracization. The white saree meant sexual abstinence and a withdrawal from all sensory experiences. Indeed they were meant to completely disregard their own appearance and pleasures. But this woman's black hair and quizzical expression is like a non-verbal statement against that diktat.


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Taken on September 20, 2007