Malana, a side valley of the Parvati Valley, located to the north-east of Kullu Valley, is an isolated land in India unaware of the outside world. With people excising their own democracy since long years, Malana receives less interference from Indian government. Malana has the one of the oldest democracy. Cannabis grows freely in this part of the country. Most of the families with their kids leave the town to go to the farms to harvest and produce ‘Malana cream’. Locals speak their own unique language, Kanashi which has no resemblance with the other languages spoken in the country. Outsiders call it the language of the devils. September-October is the harvest season when even children as young as six help in extracting hashish.
Mumbai-based, photojournalist Harikrishna Katragadda’s Malana series gives a glimpse of the life in the town distant from its rest of the world. The artist who discovered his passion for photography while documenting the Narmada Bachao Andolan, has traveled around for his photography projects and won many awards by the Media Foundation of India, South Asian Journalists Association, National Foundation for India and The Poynter Institute. His works have been exhibited at the Goethe Institute, India Habitat Centre, Delhi Photo Festival and the Angkor Wat Photo Festival.
Here are a few pictures from his photo story- Republic of cannabis.
1. A boy holding the bird he got done with a stone.
2. Cow walking on the fresh snow.
3. A woman drying sheep skin in the bright moment of sunshine in the winter.
4. Boy who goes to the farm with his family to help in producing cannabis.
5. The hand that makes Malana cream.
6. Making hashish is a part of the lifestyle of the people from Malana.
7. Marriages with outsiders were earlier prohibited in Malana. Not anymore! Priests are not involved in their marriages. The two a families dress up in the traditional attire, host a big feast and are declared married.
8. As a large crowd gathers at a ritual dance during Fagdi, an annual autumn festival, boys climb a tree to get a better view.
9. Malana at midnight!
10. Eight-year-old Neha gets ready to go to school in Jari, a small town near Malana. During the sub-zero temperature winters, locals move down to other areas in Himachal Pradesh to graze their sheep and take their children to warmer schools.
11. Children getting ready for school!
12. After a snow storm early in the morning, a man herds sheep into a warm place inside his house.
13. A small girl in the field.
14. Kids playing on the tin roofs of the houses.
15. Women dressed in traditional wear for a religious ritual.