Kochi Dhobi Wallah Wash-House -
Kerala, India

Hand Washing

The Kochi Dhobi Wallah Wash-House Kerala India.
The origins of the dhobi khana lie in the colonial period, when British officers brought many Tamil villagers to Kochi to work as washermen. This Tamil community was first organised together in the 1920s, and came to be known as the Vannar community and has retained its cohesive identity over the years.

The first dhobi khana was organised under the Madras Presidency. The current structure in Veli was built in 1976 by the GCDA (Greater Cochin Development Authority). At present, there are about 40 families in the community who use this Khana. Each cubicle with wash pens and water tanks is allotted to one family.

“Technically nobody is allowed to use anyone else’s wash pens.  Usually men wash clothes and women in the family help them dry and iron the clothes,” 

I had a chance to talk with a washing guy, wearing a tropical looking blue lungi around his waist and an off-white T-shirt. He looked to be in his early 60's. His hair was still thick, nice romantic grey I would say, and with a suiting somewhat trimmed beard. Being proud of his profession, he told me that he had been working there for the last 40 years! Devotion! He also told us that he makes Rs 10 per cloth (up from 1 paisa (0.01 rupees) when he started), which isn't bad money in India.
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