With the invention of television and social media, the radio lost its glory. But in the Bengali household, the one day on which the radio becomes the showstopper is the day of Mahalaya. It’s a ritual to wake up in the morning on the day of Mahalaya by listening to Mahishasurmurdini on the radio. The low usage of radio throughout the year has reduced significantly making the role of ‘Radio Kaku’ important on the eve of Mahalaya.
Radio Uncle’s shop is located in Kumartuli, North Kolkata. Radio Uncle’s store has a collection of old radios. His love for radio developed when he listened to the morning news broadcasts and music playing on the radio as a child. At the age of 17, he started work as a radio mechanic. During that time there was a lot of demand for radio mechanics, but later many people associated with radio lost their jobs due to the decrease in the demand for radio.
But Radio Uncle did not give up. Despite of thousand odds, he stuck to the profession of fixing radios. His business continued until 2000, but since then the business of Radio Kaku has been in bad shape. Despite financial hardship and marital tension, Radio Kaku did not engage in any other business apart from radio. The wheel of fortune turns again. Photographers have been flocking to the Kumartuli neighborhood since 2010.
Seeing the radio shops, many people started bringing them to Radio Uncle to repair their home radios. Someone’s father’s wedding radio, someone’s grandfather’s radio, and someone’s old radio from the ancestral home all started arriving at Radio uncle’s shop. Radio uncle also diligently repaired them. This is how Radio Uncle’s business continues today.
He said that he is very grateful to those who came to Kumartuli to take pictures. Because it is because of them that his business is still alive. A lot of work has come to him before Mahalaya this year. Most of the works have been brought by photographers visiting the potters’ neighborhood of Kumartuli. He also said that now he has a lot of work pressure for Mahalaya. He cannot return anyone. He has to work all day.
Mahalaya was celebrated on September 25 this year. It marked the beginning of the Durga Puja festival. On this day, the elders of the family pay tributes to their ancestors by performing Tarpan where they offer water to the ancestors’ souls on the bank of Ganga.