The performing arts in India have traditionally been the domain of Dalit communities. To this day, these men and women continue to nurture and foster their chosen art forms in the face of discrimination and prejudice. We consider ourselves to be connoisseurs of art and culture. Yet, we fail to recognize the very communities who have shaped this culture.
The Museum of Broken Tea Cups, using the symbology of the used, broken tea cup that upper caste households leave outside their doors for the use of Dalit workers, is an effort to recognize the immense cultural contribution made by Dalit communities through the stories of individual artists who languish in the forgotten gallis and mohallas of our villages and towns. At the same time, the book seeks to celebrate the everyday heroes, who have, despite all odds, managed to change not just their own lives, but the lives of those around them. These are students and teachers, artists and activists, storytellers and devadasis, daughters and mothers, sons and brothers—seemingly ordinary people—whose faces get lost in everyday life, but whose stories have the potential to inspire admiration, action and change.