In the heart of New Delhi lives what is said to be the world's largest collective of performers -- puppeteers, drummers, monkey tamers, snake charmers, singers, acrobats, and more. Their family units can include more than a dozen members. Dads and moms pass their art down to the kids. In Kathputli Colony that's simply how things are done.
Whether tradition will continue this way is another story. The 3,000 families of Kathputli are facing a major threat to their way of life, a standoff that's mesmerized local papers and documentarians abroad who have trekked to the so-called magician's ghetto to capture what could be its final days.
The colony began in the 1950s, when Delhi was not so dense as it is today. Now the land it sits on is central and valuable. Accordingly, powerful entities are vying for it. The civic body who owns the land, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), plans to evict all the current residents to make room for luxury flats and a shopping mall.
Kathputli means "puppeteers," but the word has come to stand for every type of magic that happens in the 6.5-acre colony. Recently, photographer Mark Leaver visited to record the scene before it disappears. Leaver took portrait style shots of the performers in their homes, which he plans to compile into a book