Joint families, once a backbone of Indian society, have been replaced by nuclear families in recent years. Nevertheless, they still exist in sufficient numbers.
Nora Bibel, a German photographer has documented 44 such families in her book ‘Family Comes First’. Book also throws some interesting insight into every individual family. Like, how a family with 27 members, despite 25 members living in one house there is 1 kitchen and a common hall. Despite 3 generations living in the same house, every family member photographed for the book felt extremely proud of continuing this rich cultural heritage.
How am I connected to this?
4 years ago, I saw a post on the Facebook page of Goethe Institute, Bengaluru. It was seeking help from reader to help in a residential project, aimed at taking pictures of joint families in Bengaluru. Nora Bibel, the photographer, wanted to get in touch with all those families with local help. I responded to her request and put her in touch with a family in my vicinity.
With the passage of time, this small event has erased from my memory. A few days ago. I received an e-mail from Nora asking me to come to attend her book launch. She has converted her photographic project into a fully fledged book. She has already exhibited her work in Germany and received huge appreciation for her work. I felt elated to help and become part of such a wonderful project.
Many individuals helpers like me and some of the families featured in the photo were present during the book launch. In her speech, Nora highlighted the perception difference between bigger families in India and Germany. There are big families in Germany called ‘großfamilien’, but they do not live in the same house. When she saw ‘großfamilien’ or ‘joint families’ in India, she was surprised and fascinated at the same time. As the joint family system itself has gone out of the mainstream life, it wasn’t an easy task for her to locate families and getting a perfect family picture. She thanked every individual for the help and presented copies of the book to individual families present at the event.
More about Nora Bibel: https://www.nora-bibel.de/commissioned/