Kutch Gurjar Kashtriya

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Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya
Mistri
Mestri
Total population
51,000[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
India
Languages
Gujarati, Kutchi
Religion
Hindu
Related ethnic groups
Mistri, Gurjar Kshatriya Kadia, Kadia, Salaat, Chunara

Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya[1][2][3][4] also known as Mistri[5][6] or Mestri[7][8] are a minority Hindu and one of the Socially and Educationally Backward Class community of Gujarat[9] in India, whom claim to be Kshatriyas.[8] They are an artisan community related with Kadia works. Most are employed as labourers under construction contractors [8] They are known for their artistic and master craftsman skills[citation needed] in constructing forts, temples, palaces, ornate decorations, idols and other buildings and statues that led to them being referred to as Mistri by the Portuguese.[citation needed] This term was later used to refer to them as a separate caste known as the Mistri a.k.a. Mistris of Kutch.[6][7][10][11]

History[edit]

Paliyas belonging to war heroes of Mistris of Kutch, standing at Dhaneti dating back to 1178 AD

Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas are a group of clans who migrated from Rajasthan in the early 7th century AD[citation needed]. Kshatriyas first entered into Saurashtra at that time and founded thirty-six villages in the area, while others moved further into Kutch. Around 1177–78 AD (VS 1234), a major group migrated to Kutch from Saurashtra[7] under the leadership of Patel Ganga Maru. They settled in the village of Dhaneti.[12] There are several Parias of the community, located near village pond of Dhaneti, standing as memorials of the war that was fought in 1178 AD. The community members still go once every year to offer pooja and their respects to their fore-fathers.[13]

This group, later, made their distinct identity not only by building historical forts, palaces, temples and architects in Kutch but also all over British India primarily in the fields of railways and coal mining.[6]

The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas left Dhaneti and went on to establish eighteen villages in Kutch[7] which were granted to them by the King: Anjar, Sinugra, Khambhra, Nagalpar, Khedoi, Madhapar, Hajapar, Kukma, Galpadar, Reha, Vidi, Jambudi, Devaliya, Lovaria, Nagor, Meghpar, Chandiya and Kumbharia.[14]

Over the centuries, they have been known or identified by names like Mistri, Mistry, Mistris of Kutch, Kutchi Contractor, Kadia, Kadia Kshatriyas, Gurjar Kshatriya Kadia, Kumar Gnati, Kutch Gurjar Kshatirya, Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj, KGK Samaj, Kgk community, etc.[10]

Culture[edit]

They are a Hindu community. Some are followers of Swaminarayan and Pranami sect of Hinduism, They are vegetarian in diet and avoid consumption of alcohol. The staple food is khichdi, vegetables, pulses and butter-milk.[8]

The community consists of clans like Rathod, Chauhan, Yadav, Chawda, Jethwa, Padhiar, Yadav, Chudasama, Parmar, Taunk, Solanki, Sawaria, Vegad, Varu, Maru, Bhalsod, etc., who enjoy same status. However, most of people prefer to pre-fix Mistri to their name.[8]

The community are an endogamous community who practice the principle of clan exogamy. Dowry is generally not asked for, neither practice of bride price is there in community. Divorce is generally not encouraged, however, divorce can be claimed in certain cases.[8]

Betrothal ceremony generally precedes marriage, which is held usually within one year of engagement and marriage is observed as per Hindu rites by taking seven circumambulation of fire.[8]

Widow remarriage (ghargenu) is allowed, where the women is usually married outside husband's family.[8][15]

In Kutch[edit]

A Chabutro built by Seth Khora Ramji Chawda in year 1900 standing at village Sinugra, shows the unique architect and skill of Mistris of Kutch. Such huge Chabutra are rare to be found in whole of India

The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas were master craftsmen, architects and contractors and have played a major role in erection and construction of the majority of forts, palaces and architecture of Kutch. It was because of this quality that around the mid 16th century they came to be known as Mistri in Kutch.[7]

The word Mistri (or Mistry) means "skilled artisan" in Gujarati.[citation needed] The Portuguese were present in Gujarat from around 1500 AD and the Battle of Diu was fought in 1509 where the Portuguese later built Diu Fort. They also acknowledged the community's expertise in building fortress and called them mestre. Even the Muslim rulers accepted the expertise of the Kadias and were always sought after for building forts and fortress. The community was also known to travel far and wide for building such forts, palaces, etc. Their original roots were in Kota[7][8] in Rajasthan. The community members who were expert builders were patronized by kings of Cutch for their ability to design fort and some members of the community holding the post of Gaidher[16] or Raj Mistry.[12]

Not only the community members were expert and specialized in stone cutting and construction of forts, palaces, temples and buildings but they were also skilled architects and artisans who could do articulate carvings of doors, windows, pillars, and statues of gods and goddesses and ceilings.[6]

Mistry Pitambar Padma was Gaidhar in the 18th century. Later his son 'Gaidher' Jagmal Pitamber of Anjar[16] was Gaidher of the Kutch Raaj in early to middle of the 19th century during time of Deshalji II,[17] when the forts of Bhuj, Anjar, Mandvi, Lakhpat and Mundra were constructed under Jagmal Pitamber[17] and other Mistri of the eighteen villages.

The Mistris of Kutch were also involved in construction and erection of Vijay Vilas Palace built on sea-beach of Mandvi by Khengarji III of Kutch, as summer palace for his son and heir Vijayaraji. The carved stone works of Jalis, Jharokas, Chhatris, Chhajas, murals and many other artistic stone carvings, colored glass work on windows and door panels all have been done by them, an art in which they were expert. The architect and craftsman from other places like Jaipur, Rajasthan, Bengal and Saurashtra, were also involved. The construction started in 1920 completed in 1929.[18]

Migration out of Kutch[edit]

The major migration of KGK from Kutch began when the British started laying railway lines in India. The KGK community which had been skilled in construction works decided to move out of Kutch and try to adapt their skills to railway lines and allied constructions for which the British needed a skilled workforce. The community were expert in stone-cutting, lime-paste making and brick manufacturing as well as in the construction of buildings and forts for centuries and decided to cash in on these new opportunities as there was a dearth of new jobs and opportunities in Kutch. Kutch was also going through a famine in those years. The KGK made a major contribution to the history of Indian railways, laying railway lines throughout British India.[citation needed]

Many families also migrated to other British Colonies, such as Aden, East Africa, Zanzibar, South Africa, Fiji, Burma, Ceylon and the Maldives during the middle of the 19th century.[6] They were encouraged by the British as these countries lacked skilled persons. They have worked in building the Aden railway, the Ceylon Government Railway, for the Burma Railway Company, Sittang Valley State Railway, Mu Valley State Railway, Thaton-Duyinzaik Railway, Irrawaddy Valley State Railway, East African Railways Corporation, Uganda Railway and the South African Railways. Today their descendants are found in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, etc. Although at present many have moved out of East Africa and settled in the United Kingdom, the USA or have returned to India after the political uncertainty during 1960–80. This was especially true during the Zanzibar Revolution in the mid-1960s and during the rule of Idi Amin in Uganda.[19]

Indian railways[edit]

It was during 1850 to 1930 AD that the KGK migrated outside Kutch and were involved in the construction of major rail-bridges and the laying down of railway tracks in almost all major rail routes of undivided British India doing the "Railway Thekedari" (Railway Contractors also Thikadari) and as Thekedar (or Thikadar) in Irrigation projects and Forest Department and Public Works Department.[20] They have also done major roadway, road bridges, canal works, irrigation dams and barrage work throughout British India from 1850 to 1980. The communities largest contribution is in the building of the early railway lines and bridges throughout British India. Their works in Railway construction span from 1850 to 1980 for more than one and a quarter of century.

Starting as small time masons in Railway Construction in decade of 1850 and later working as Sub-contractors or Agent to British Engineers, they rose to a level of First Class Railway Contractors by 1880. By 1900 they had established their Monopoly in various divisions of Railways throughout North, South, East and West of British India and by 1920 they became masters in this field that many of them were given title of Rai Bahadur by British exclusively for their engineering feats in erection of Railway Bridges and laying lines in most difficult terrain. Their feats are amazing also because almost all of the early pioneering Mistri Contractors could only write in Gujarati and had hardly studied up to third standard in vernacular schools of their dusty villages, still they managed to build bridges and lay railway lines, which required scientific measurement and calculation and could manage to work and speak with British Railway Officers and Engineers.[citation needed]

They preferred to work as a syndicate, where the railway contracts would be taken by them and sub-let to fellow Mistri contractors belonging to their 19 villages. Thus they held sway in many divisions of Railways in British India. There was dearth of skilled persons in India who were ready to work in difficult terrains of mountains and jungles due to the risk of being killed by diseases like malaria, cholera, plague and by wild animals or gangs of robbers and outlaws. The early British records of many railway companies have noted that many British engineers and labour resigned, left or even perished due to killer diseases like malaria, cholera and from the effects of the heat and sun while laying the railway lines. Working as a railway contractor in these early days meant staying away from home for many months, or even years. In these difficult circumstances the KGK were the pioneers, laying lines as far as Assam, Chittagong, Peshawar and Madras, thousands of miles away from their homes in Kutch. Before the arrival of the railways the main means of transport were horse-cart, bullock-cart or moving on foot. They used to travel with their families and children and there are many records of their children being born in remote jungles.[citation needed]

The laying of the railways needed a lot of physical labor and stamina for jobs like leveling the earth, the cutting back of the jungle, blasting of mountain passes and cuttings, laying ballast along tracks and walking several of miles daily. Mechanical knowledge for track interlockings, switching, and advanced engineering calculations for building bridges and their arches and abutments, laying foundations in river beds, deep well-sinking, laying spans and many such technical jobs. Similarly they built the platforms, the station buildings, the station master's room, ticket counters, rest rooms and other facilities such as over-head water tanks, the digging of ponds nearby for an uninterrupted supply of water, building the signal cabin, rail yard and staff quarters.[citation needed]

The railways needed an uninterrupted supply of bricks, boulders and lime-paste for building of the infrastructure in those early days between 1850 and 1900. The KGK also known as Chunaras (lime workers) for many decades, cashed in on this opportunity and many of them started brickworks and lime-kilns in remote, forested and inaccessible areas of British India to supply the materials. The railways needed bricks of specific sizes and dimensions which were a little bigger and stronger than the ordinary bricks used in house construction. It should be noted here that in those days lime-paste was used for construction. The community were also expert in the art of stone cutting that they had inherited from their fore-fathers, who were masters at building forts. These cut-rocks have been used in most old bridges and platform buildings and can still be seen surviving today.[citation needed]

In history of India, Mistris of Kutch are probably the only community, whose migration out of their home land Kutch, was attributed to construction of Railways in British era. This is a unique fact about association of Railways and Mistris of Kutch[citation needed]

Docks, dams and canals in British India[edit]

The KGK contributed to the building of docks, dams, barrages and irrigation canals between 1850 and 1980,[citation needed] and they in the eighteenth century had been among the communities who built the first ports of Bombay and Hornby Vellard. Other docks were developed in Bombay during 1870–1895 (Prince's Docks built in 1885 and Victoria Docks built in 1891[21]) in which many Mistris of Kutch and Kadia Kshatriyas of Saurahstra worked.

In 1883 the Mandvi Port Docks and a bridge over the Rukmavati River at Mandvi were built by Vishram Karman Chawda of Chandiya. It is the longest stone bridge of its kind in India.[citation needed]

Mining[edit]

Coal mining[edit]

In the regions of British India known as Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas pioneered Indian involvement in coal mining from 1894. They broke the previous monopolies held by British and other Europeans, establishing many collieries at locations such as Khas Jharia, Jamadoba, Balihari, Tisra, Katrasgarh, Kailudih, Kusunda, Govindpur, Sijua, Sijhua, Loyabad, Dhansar, Bhuli, Bermo, Mugma, Chasnala-Bokaro, Bugatdih, Putki, Chirkunda, Bhowrah, Sinidih, Kendwadih, and Dumka.[19][22]

Seth Khora Ramji Chawda of Sinugra was the first Indian to break the British monopoly in the Jharia Coalfields.[19][23] Natwarlal Devram Jethwa says that

The East Indian Railway in 1894-95 extended its line from Barakar to Dhanbad via Katras and Jharia. Messrs. Khora Ramji in 1894 was working on railway lines contract of Jharia branch line and with his brother Jetha Lira was also building Jharia Railway Station, when he discovered coal in Jharia belt. The location of his three collieries named Jeenagora, Khas Jherria, Gareria is mentioned also in 1917 Gazetteers of Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa.[24]

Other Indian communities followed the example of the KGK in the Dhanbad-Jharia-Bokaro fields after the 1930s. These included the Punjabis, Kutchis, Marwaris, Gujaratis, Bengalis and Hindustanis. Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa -1920 mentions:- "Out of 92 collieries belonging to Gujaratis in Jharia Coalfields Area during 1920s - 50 belonged to Mistris of Kutch with Seth Khora Ramji as Head of them all." Seth Khora Ramji of Sinugra was also honored by King of Kutch by giving him a Paghdi.[19][25][26][27][28][29]

Mineral mining[edit]

Arjan Ladhha Rathod and Varjang Harji Rathod of Kumbharia founded the Manganese Ore mines at Chaibasa in 1910 and Arjan Ladhha Mines sometimes misspell as Arjun Lodha Mines at Balagoda. Lalji Jhina of Anjar also owned Manganese ore mines in Chaibasa. Rai Sahib Mulji Jagmal Savaria of Kumbharia and Rai Bahadur Jairam Valji Chauhan of Kumbharia owned Manganese, Dolomite and Limestone Mines in at Jairamnagar, Akaltara, Tirodi, Katni in Central Provinces. Jeevram Jairam Chawda of Sinugra owned Minerals mines in Saraikela. The community members also owned Slate and Granite mines in Markapur and Minerals Mines in Keonjhar. Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan of Nagor owned Silica mines in Shankargarh. Hirji Premji Parmar of Kukma and Deoji Jairam Solanki of Madhapar owned soap-stone and kaoline mines at Asansol and Hazaribagh.[19][30]

Contribution in architects and development of cities of India[edit]

Apart from laying first Railway lines and building docks of Bombay, the Mistris of Kutch and Kadias of Saurashtra were also involved in construction of Victoria Terminus for Great Indian Peninsula Railway, Bombay Central and Colaba Terminus both for Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, Bombay High Court, Taj Hotel, J. J. School of Art, Town Hall, Wilson College, Apollo Bundar to name a few in city of Bombay.[citation needed] Cutch Castle of Bombay, the royal palace belonging to Rulers of Kutch was erected by Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan of Nagor of KGK Community for Maharao Shri Khengarji Bawa, who shared a personal friendship with Jagmal Raja.[18]

In 1929, the British Authorities, named a Railway Station as Jairamnagar, after Railway Contractor of the community Rai Bahadur Jairam Valji Chauhan of Kumbharia, a rare honor in those days.[19]

In Calcutta apart from building Docks of Calcutta Port and Railway lines and building complex of Howrah Station for East Indian Railway and Sealdah for Eastern Bengal Railway, the community were involved in construction of Howrah Bridge. Many Victorian buildings in Kolkata have been built by the karigars (artisans) of the Mistri community of Kutch, says Pramod Jethi[nb 1], an authority on Kutchi art. They were also involved in construction of Victoria Memorial.

In 1923 by request of Commissioner, Kadia Bhanji Dhanji Rathod of Devaliya had done repair and rehabilitation of Dwarakadheesh temple with Ranchhod Ramji Chauhan of Nagalpar, as per tablet in Temple's records.[19]

In 1932 upon completion of Bally Bridge, Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan of Nagor was recommended by the erstwhile Viceroy of India, The Earl of Willingdon to Rana of Nepal, Shree Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, who needed Contractor of repute to do renovation and rehabilitation of his Palaces and temples. He was given the Contract for the same and Parbat Harji Chauhan, Karaman Devji Chauhan both of Kukma and Manji Shivjee of Madhapar were delegated by Jagmal Raja to go to Kathmandu, Nepal with a team of artisans and masons to supervise and complete the work. It took about two and half years for the job to be completed.[18]

Religious and charitable contributions outside Kutch[edit]

Members of the KGK community have funded the construction of and also built many temples, Dharamshalas and schools. These buildings include the Kutchi Ashram at Haridwar in 1954–56, the Kutchi Kadia Dharamsala in Mathura, the Gujarati Jalaram Dharamshala in Amarkantak, and the Ram Temples at Kharagpur and at Bilaspur.[citation needed] In 1920 a charitable trust for promoting education called Jharia Vidhhyotejak Fund was started by Mistri Colliery owners at Jharia. This Fund started the Jharia Gujarati Primary School in 1920 and also gave scholarship to the children of their society.[19] At Cuttack, a school named Gujarati Pathshala started in 1928, which was renamed as Anglo Gujarati School in 1941 was started by Rai Saheb Kunwarji Karsan Rathod of Madhapar. A public library was also started by him in 1931.[31] Jairam Daya Chauhan of Kumbharia, who built Muktidham Temple at Nashik Road also donated a large sum to start a College in Nasik named J. D. Bytco Commerce And N. S. Chandak Science College and D D Bytco Boys High School and Jr College both at Nasik.[19] Rai Sahib Mulji Jagmal and Ranchhod Jagmal Savaria built a hospital in Ratanpur.[19] Nanji Govindji Tank of Hajapar built the existing Hindu Cemetorium and also a Ram Temple both at Jamshedpur and was one of the founder-trustee of the "Gujrati Sanatan Samaj" Community Center at Bistupur. Kanji Daya Chawda of Sinugra, built a Dharamsala in Keonjhar now named Kanji Daya Dharamsala for public and charitable use in 1934.[32]

Downturn in fortunes[edit]

The majority of the once-prosperous KGK community living in Kutch and Saurashtra today are devoid of agricultural land and have been included in the list of Socially and Educationally Backward Class community in Gujarat. Those who migrated from the state cannot take advantage of this reservation.[10][9]

Present status[edit]

Distribution in India[edit]

KGK community members are found throughout India, notably near to the major rail routes and junctions associated with the work of their forebears.[citation needed] Communities exist in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal.[14]

Social organization and activities in present times[edit]

KGK associations exist today in various Indian states,[33] and there are meetings and events organised at local, state and national level. These include match-making events, called Sagpan-Sanmmelan,[34] and the traditional dispute resolution by elected community elders continues with the Panch. There is an annual gathering in Kutch, their native state and their national President is elected every three years by way of voting.[1][8]

They also have a woman's wing called Mahila Mandal at state and national level. Every three years a woman president is also elected by ladies of the community. The woman's wing works independently and in co-operation with the president of the community. The national level women's body of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas is called Akhil Bharatiya Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya samaj Mahila Mandal.[35][36] The woman president of this wing then appoints her working committee members. The Mahila Mandal was founded in 1976 and first Mahila Mandal Pramukh or President of Women's Wing of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas was elected.[1] In 1996 the community elected a woman to be Mahasabha Pramukh, or President of the community.[citation needed]

Similarly, they also have a youth wing at state and national organizational levels called All India Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj Yuva Mahamandal. The young generation helps in organizing major national and state level events and the youths also organize a sports event every three years called Kutchyad,[37] taking cue and inspiration from the Asiad of 1982 Asian Games. The event also coincides with Dance, Music and match-making event.[37] Every year a mass-marriage event is also held called Samuh-Lagna where the marriages of financially weak families or couples are held with blessings and financial co-operation of the whole community. The first such event by the community was held on 10 May 1966, with six marriages at Dhanbad and later on a larger scale in 1972 at Raipur. It continues to be held every year since then at different locations in India.[2]

Religious customs and beliefs in present days[edit]

Community members are still carrying forward the religious customs and beliefs embedded in them since many centuries ago and continue to follow Hindu religious customs. They are still followers of different sects of Hinduism.[citation needed]

The newly wed couple come at least once to bow to their Kuldevi at the temples which are located in the eighteen villages in Kutch originally founded by their ancestors. The newly weds also go and offer their respects at the Parias of their Satis and Shurapuras located in Kutch.[13]

There is a custom to offer special prayers and pooja called Kar to their Kuldevis whenever a boy is born in the family.[citation needed]

Present day identity[edit]

Other than being referred to as the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya, the terms "KGK Community" or "Kgk Samaj" are more often used acronyms for the community in present day India at a national level. "Mistri", which was mostly used during the last century and before is nowadays only used in Kutch and Gujarat. However, the Other Backward Class Certificate as per the Bakshi Panch report are given in the name of the Mistri only.[10][9]

KGK Community in other fields[edit]

  • Seth Khora Ramji Chawda (1860–1923) of Sinugra has been credited by British themselves as the first Indian to break monopoly of Europeans in Jharia coalfields belt in year 1894 going on to establish ten collieries. He was also a Railway Contractor and Banker of repute and his life sketch is mentioned by British authorities in Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Year 1920.[19][23]
  • Govamal Jiwan Chauhan (1855–1929) of Kumbharia was also a Railway Contractor of repute and Coal Mines owner and Banker at Jharia. His exploits as Railway Contractor and life sketch is also noted by British authorities in Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Year 1924-25. The coal mines business established by him in 1910 was carried on by his sons Amarsinh Gowamal and Manji Gowamal carried on his coal mines business after his death till nationalization of coal mines in 1972-73.[19][38]
  • Moolji Jagmal Sawaria (1889–1956) of Kumbharia was a noted railway and civil contractor, miner & businessman, who lived in Bilaspur. He carried on legacy of his father Jagmal Gangji as Railway Contractor with his brother Ranchhod Jagmal Sawaria. He was partner in Basara Colliery near Jharia. Further, in 1921-22, he discovered coal near Pali, while doing railway contracts and founded Donganalla and Pandilafa Collieries. He started first match factory of Central Provinces and Berar in 1936 and also in 1953 discovered chromite in Madhya Pradesh.[49]
  • Lira Raja Rathod (Bhalsod) (1889–1972) of Khambhra was a noted railway Contractor, real estate owner & philanthropist who established himself in Calcutta. He did major Railway works like, Gomoh to Hazaribag section in 1919, Raipur to Vizianagram section in 1926. His father Raja Ruda was also a Railway Contractor who did jobs narrow gauge line of Raipur Dhamtari Railway in 1898. His brother Vishram Raja also worked with him in many Railway contracts. Later he shifted from Raipur and settled in Calcutta and from years 1925 to 1945 he built many majestic buildings namely Raja Bhawan at Chittaranjan Avenue, Raja Court and Raja Terrace at Mission Row, Raja Mansion and Raja Chambers near Strand Road and Godavari Bhawan at Bhowanipore and gained name as a Real Estate owner in city. Many of these buildings are now land-marks of the city. He was known for his charities and donated money and lands in various places in India.[19]
  • Jairam Dahya Chauhan (1885–1968) of Kumbharia, who established himself at Nasik as a reputed Railway Contractor, industrialist & philanthropist. He was founder the J. D. Bytco Limited. Bytco is a known name in oral health-care. He is noted for founding of Muktidham. Further, he donated land and money to start several school & collages.[46]
  • Rajesh Chauhan (b 1966) of Bhilai is a former Spin Bowler, who played for Indian Cricket team from 1993 to 1998, belongs to the community. His father Govind Raja Chauhan hailing from Vidi and later settled in Ranchi was also a cricketer and played Ranji Trophy in 1957 & Duleep Trophy in 1964. He has been Chairman of youth wing of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas for years 1993-96.[51]
  • Bharat Purshottam Tank (1966–2009) son of Purshottam Jagmal Tank of Kukma living in Raipur was a drummer, who created a national record in beating drums non-stop for 123 hours and 20 minutes at the age of 22 in year 1988.[52]
  • Vaidhya Pragji Mohanji Rathor (1918–2006) of Nagalpar, who lived in Bhavnagar and later in Navsari, was a noted person in Ayurvedic medicines and science. He was an authority in Urine therapy and have written many books on Shivambu Chikitsa or self-urine therapy and Ayurvdic medicines in Gujarati language. Some of which were also later translated and published in English. His weekly articles used to be published in various Gujarati publications and newspapers. He was honored by Gujarat Government. The noted book written by him is Vigyan Ki Kasauti Par: Swamutra Chikitsa . He was attached to many social and charitable organizations and used to visit free medical camps in Calcutta and Bombay. He was also known social leader of the community.[53] During his lifetime he was President of Gujarat Vaidya Mandal and worked on several posts of Gujarat Ayurved University.[54]
  • Dharshi Jethalal Tank (1919–2010) of Nagalpar, living in Jamshedpur has his name recorded in Limca Book of Records for Mathematical Calculations. He was also the editor and compliar of the book Nanji Bapa ni Nondh-pothi published in 1999. The book was given Ank-Sidhhi award by Kuth Shakti at a function held in Mumbai in 2000.[citation needed]

KGK as pioneers of social reforms[edit]

The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya community have not practiced the system of compulsory or forced dowry for many years. In addition, widows were in general allowed to remarry by community elders, i.e. the "Moti Naat" and the "Community Panch", on a case to case basis for more than two centuries – much before the Widow Remarriage Act was brought into British India in 1856. The word used for such widow remarriage was "Ghar-gharana".[15] Even the young widows having infants were also allowed to remarry in case the second husband guaranteed to take care of child born from first marriage. There was a word called "agandiyaat" used for the young boy which came to his stepfather's house holding the finger of its mother. The word "angadi" in Gujarati language means finger and "angadiyaat" means the one who has come holding the finger.[citation needed] Sometimes, when the family of first husband, wished that son born from her first marriage should carry the name and title or surname of his deceased father, such arrangements were also given.[50]

In 1968, a Samuh-Lagna (mass community marriage) event was held on experimental basis by the Dhanbad Ghatak (unit) of the KGK community. Six couples were married in this first such mass-marriage event[50] and the KGK were probably one of the first Indian communities to arrange such a thing in post-independence India.[citation needed] In 1972, another Samuh-Lagna for financially weak families of the community was held at Raipur. There are now Samuh-Lagna held annually at different locations in India.[2]

Re-organization of KGK in post-independence India[edit]

Around 1942 onwards the historic "Naat" and "Patel" system came to an end due to some internal problems as well as national level turbulence including World War-II, the Indian Independence movement, the partition of India, merger of the princely states and formation of the Union of India. The community, most of which were involved in railway "Thekedari" and lay scattered across the various states of India could not re-organize themselves and for almost three decades the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas lost their unity and leadership. The Patel system and Moti-Naat started to collapse around 1945 and was ended by 1950.[50]

In Raipur a community organization called Kshatriya Seva Sangh was established in 1935 and later a greater organization called Shree Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Ganti Samaj was established in 1948 and in 1954 the community center was built in Raipur.[citation needed]

Although the Moti-Naat went into a state of limbo around 1950 the Dhanbad and Raipur organizations were considered an extended part of Moti-Naat and were given the status of Gaam or village in addition to the 18 villages of Kutch. This status was given to them in view of the large population of KGK members living in both cities. Until 1960 both Dhanbad and Raipur units continued to pay their community taxes and subscription to the Moti-Naat in Kutch.[citation needed]

Later on a Yuvak Mahasabha, or Young Man's Association, of the community was formed in 1954 in Dhanbad. This Yuvak Mahasabha worked until 1968, with blessings from elders of the community, to bring a form a unity in Samaj but it could not replace Panch, Naat and the Patel system of historic times and the need for a greater organization was always needed. A community center was built by members of community during 1959–60 in Dhanbad at which later a Samuh-Lagna event was also organized by them in 1968, which can be said to be first such mass-marriage event before much publicized 1972 event held at Raipur.[50]

Finally in 1971 the community re-organized themselves and first some leaders with good wishes of elders of community, met at Jaipur and a resolution was passed to contact all families of the community spread throughout India and unite to elect a new leader by the next year.[19][50]

Accordingly in 1972 the community again got together at Raipur and at a huge gathering at their Samaj Bhawan on 3 June 1972, they unanimously elected their first President – Mahasabha Pramukh of post-independence India. The pre-independence Moti Naat was re-christened as Mahasabha and Patel was rechristened as Pramukh and the Panch system was re-established. The new constitution of the community, charitable trusts and state and national level units were formed. A detailed a census with a list of community members was carried out.[citation needed][50] The community name Shree Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Mahasabha was registered under The Societies Registration Act with its registered office at Calcutta in 1972.[citation needed]

In the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, which had its epicenter in Kutch, the following villages of Mistris were largely affected and destroyed – Anjar, Sinugra, Khambhra, Devaliya, Chandiya, Nagalpar, Lovaria, etc. Many heritage houses and havelis belonging to rich Mistri families, built almost 100 years ago, with ornate facades, intricate door carvings and metal grill windows and verandas depicting the life of Queen Victoria were all razed to the ground. There were also huge wall and ceiling paintings depicting scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana which are no more. The majestic interiors, doors and window panels of some of the houses were similar in design, which can still be seen in Prag Mahal.[6]

Along with other communities of Kutch, the KGK suffered significant casualties as a result of the earthquake of 26 January 2001. In many cases whole families of the KGK community were buried alive. The houses built by their fore-fathers were also lost, all being razed to the ground.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "મહારાષ્ટ્રના નાગપુર ખાતે કચ્છ ગુર્જર ક્ષત્રિય સમાજ રાષ્ટ્રીય મહાસભાનું અધિવેશન (Election of President of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj held at Nagpur, Maharashtra)". Gujarat Samachar. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "સમૂહ લગ્નોથી સમાજ ગિઠત થાય / 38th Mass community marriage Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya held at Anjar". Divya Bhaskar. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "HC raps mgmt of Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj-Gondia". Times of India. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "कर्मठ है कच्छ गुर्जर क्षत्रिय समाज (Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj people are hardworking)". Dainik Bhaskar. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "મંદિર પ્રકરણમાં ખોટા કેસ થાય તેવો મિસ્ત્રી સમાજને ભય Barla Mandir case - Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya / Mistri Samaj of Madhapar afraid of false implication". Divya Bhaskar. 6 February 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "In the shambles of Pride of Kutch lies priceless art". Expressindia.com. 2001-03-12. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f India's communities by Kumar Suresh Singh. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 2287. MESTRI: They are also known as Mistri. Kota in Rajasthan is believed to be their native place from where they came to Kutch in vs 1234 in search of livelihood. In Gujarat, the community is distributed in about eighteen villages of the Bhuj and Anjar 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gujarat, Part 1 By Kumar Suresh Singh, Rajendra Behari Lal. 2003. pp. 912–915. 
  9. ^ a b c List of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes declared by Gujarat State
  10. ^ a b c d Mistri Encyclopaedia of Backward Castes By Neelam Yadav Page 316.
  11. ^ Kadia, Gurjar Ksahtriya Kadia, Gurjar Kadia Encyclopaedia of Backward Castes By Neelam Yadav Page 264, 316
  12. ^ a b Kumar Ganti Itihass (History of Kumar Gnati) Published in year 1896.
  13. ^ a b "ધાણેટી ખાતે કચ્છ ગુ.ક્ષ. સમાજ...(Pooja held at Dhaneti by Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya for their Shurapura & Dada)". Kutch Mitra Daily. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "Pradeshik Samiti and Ghatak of KGK". Chawra.com. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  15. ^ a b Article on Widow Re-marriage (custom of Ghar-gharana) prevalent in Samaj by Nanji Mulji Chauhan of Kurnool. (Samaj Sandesh: 1996 August Page 12)
  16. ^ a b Gazetteer, Volume 5 By Bombay (India : State). 1880. p. 210. 
  17. ^ a b Mrs. Postans (1839). Cutch or random sketches taken during a residence in one of the northern provinces of Western India. p. 84. 
  18. ^ a b c d Kutch Darpan (Gujarati magazine published from Vadodara) August 2009 issue (article on Jagmal Raja Chauhan)
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Diary of Golden Days at Jharia – A Memoir and History of Gurjar Kashtriya Samaj of Kutch in Coalfields of Jharia – written by Natwarlal Devram Jethwa of Calcutta (1998).
  20. ^ Shri K. G. Kshatriya Samaj is a small Gujrat based community of around 50,000 people. The K.G.K. community is known for its commitment to hard work and initially made its presence felt as a contractors in Railways, Road, Forest and Construction.
  21. ^ Thomas Gatten, TNN 13 December 2008, 04.29am IST. "Prince's and Victoria docks in state of decay". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  22. ^ Census of India, 1981: Bihar. Series 4. Controller of Publications - Bihar. 1981. p. 22. It was the existence of coal that first attracted the railway authority to extend the railways and with them came the Gujrati people as an expert railway contractor with an experience of railway construction work at Thana. They then met Raja of Jharia and purchased some having underneath wast wealth in shape of coal. 
  23. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa by British Authority (1920)
  24. ^ "Gazetteers of Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa 1917 Khora Ramji Colliries". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  25. ^ Khora Ramji Mines capsized in 1938. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  26. ^ Jharia Coalfields: Khora Ramji, Narayan Chowra, etc. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  27. ^ India at a Glance: A comprehensive reference book on India by T. V. Rama Rao, G. D. Binani. Published by Orient Longmans in 1954 (Coal Mines Section)
  28. ^ Indigenous Enterprise in the Indian Coal Mining Industry c. 1835–1939, C.P. Simmons. Published in 1976.
  29. ^ Report on the production and consumption of coal in India of 1921 India. Dept. of Statistics (Superintendent Government Printing, 1921 – Technology and Engineering).
  30. ^ Records - Geological Survey of India. Books.google.co.in. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  31. ^ a b [1] Cuttack, one thousand years, Volume 2, Page 293
  32. ^ Samaj Sandesh: 2009 December
  33. ^ Rethinking Indian culture: challenges and responses by Sitakant Mahapatra, Harish Chandra Das, Abhiram Biswal, Institute of Oriental and Orissan Studies - 2001- Page 32
  34. ^ Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj, Pune: Sagpan Sanmelean Press Report dated 22 February 2009[dead link]
  35. ^ Indian Anthropologist - Volumes - 1966- 26-28 - Page 44
  36. ^ Trading Community of India: An Anthropological Study of Ethnicity by Nilakantha Panigrahi, Premananda Panda, Premanatha Panda (anthropologist.)- 2000 - Page 188
  37. ^ a b "જબલપુરમાં કચ્છ ગુર્જર ક્ષત્રિય સમાજની ક્રિકેટ ટીમ ચેમ્પિયન.. (Kutch team wins Cricket championship beating Chhattisgarh team at Jabalpur Kutchyad of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj)". Divya Bhaskar. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  38. ^ Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa by British Authorities (1925): Life sketch of Govamal Jiwan Chauhan
  39. ^ Society of Glass Technology, Sheffild, England 1941: John Northwood and Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  40. ^ Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja – Life-sketch Modern Bombay and Indian states: T. Peters, Who's Who Publishers (India), 1942
  41. ^ Modern Bombay and Indian States by T. Peters, Who's Who Publishers (India), 1942 (Pg 250 Life-sketch of Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan)
  42. ^ Modern Bombay and her patriotic citizens: Published by Who's Who Publishers (India), 1941 – Article on Jagmal Raja Chauhan.
  43. ^ Willingdon Bridge, Calcutta. The work was carried out by Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja, Assoc. Inst. CE Minutes of proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain) 1934: Willingdon Bridge and Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Pg 80–110
  44. ^ Proceedings of the Indian Science Congress, Volume 17 Asiatic Society of Bengal, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, India), Indian Science Congress Association Reference on Rai Bahadur Jagamal Raja.
  45. ^ Cuttack Electric Supply Co Ltd. Founded 1929 Director Rai Sahib Koovarji Karsen Rathor. Books.google.co.in. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  46. ^ a b Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj Mahasabha-Vasti Patrak (1972) – (History section). Published in 1972 in Gujarati language.
  47. ^ Purshottam Khimji Chauhan, Jharia. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  48. ^ The Times of India directory and year book including who's who , Volume 28. 1941. p. 1087. 
  49. ^ Records of the Geological Survey of India , Volume 88. Government of India. 1958. p. 84. Sri Moolji Jagmal, Contractor, Bilaspur had informed Madhya Pradesh government.. of finding Chromite in hillock... 
  50. ^ a b c d e f g Sansmriti: A memoir written by Nanalal Amarsinh Chauhan of Bagalkot in Gujarati language published in 2004. (The book gives details of re-organization and history of KGK Samaj after 1950 till 1985 and also brief life-sketch of some noted people)
  51. ^ "कच्छ गुर्जर समाज का मिलन समारोह". Dainik Bhaskar. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  52. ^ Samaj Sandesh (January, 2010)
  53. ^ International Catalogue of Ayurvedic Publications – naming the book Vigyan Ki Kasauti Par: Swamutra Chikitsa, Pragji Mohanji Rathore
  54. ^ "Gujarat Samachar Online dated 10 March 2006 : Obitury : Vaidh Pragji Mohanji Rathor died 7th March 2006". Webcache.googleusercontent.com. 2013-08-26. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pramod Jethi is curator of Aina Mahal Trust, an authority on Kutchi art & artisans of Kutch region. He is also author of several books like: KUTCH : People & their handicrafts (2008), Co-author of A glorious heritage : Maharao Lakhpatji and the Aina Mahal by Pramod J. Jethi and W. Christopher (2000) & other several books in Gujarati & English

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kumar Ganti Prakash by Gaurishankar Harishankar Ojha. Publisher: Patel Ramji Mandan (1898) (Gujarati book)
  • Gazetteers of Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa 1917 Khora Ramji Collieries
  • Nanji Bapa ni Nondh-pothi published from Baroda, in the Gujarati, 1999. It is a diary of railway contracts done by the KGK community, noted by Nanji Govindji Tank at Jamshedpur throughout his lifetime with his last entry in 1954. The diary was discovered his son Govardhan Nanji Tank and released as a book compiled by Dharshibhai Jethalal Tank. It was given the Aank Sidhhi award by Kutch Shakti at Mumbai in 2000. Book also has a section with photos on historical monuments and architects built by the Mistris of Kutch and has life-sketches of noted people of community. It has excerpts from the Encyclopedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa 1920 & 1925.
  • Diary of Golden Days at Jharia - A Memoir & History of Gurjar Kashtriya Samaj of Kutch in Coalfields of Jharia - written by Natwarlal Devram Jethwa of Calcutta (1998). Gives history of community pioneers in coal mining in Jharia from 1894 till 1972 with life sketches of Seth Khora Ramji, Jetha Lira, Khimjee & Gangjee Dossa, Ramji Rupa, Jagmal Raja, Manji Jeram. Also the life-sketches of people of Jharia from other communities like Lala Karamchand Thapar, Diwan Bahadur D. D. Thacker, Kripashankar & Harishankar Worah, Jatashankar Dossa Chanchani, Mavji Kalyanji, Ramjush Agarwalla, Waliram Taneja, Amritlal Ojha & many others from Jharia coalfields.
  • Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj : A brief History & Glory: by Raja Pawan Jethwa. (2007) Calcutta. The Book has separate sections: INTRODUCTION : Gives an overview of Kutch Gurjar Kshtriya community and its ancient history (I) KGK and Architect built by them mainly in Princely State of Cutch. (II) KGK and Railway : Gives details of some major Railway work with mileage wise details (III) KGK Surnames & History : Section gives details of various Kshatriya clan's history and origin of their surnames. (IV) Section deals with Kuldevi names various clans of KGK worship.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bhuj: art, architecture, history by Azhar Tyabji, Environmental Planning Collaborative (Ahmadābād, India) 2006
  • A glorious heritage : Maharao Lakhpatji and the Aina Mahal by Pramod J. Jethi and W. Christopher (2000)
  • "KUTCH : People & their handicrafts" by Pramod J. Jethi & Nayana P. Jethi, 2008.
  • "Kutchi Leva Patel - Our Journey to prosperity" by S. P. Gorasia. (June 2004). Published by Cutch Social & Cultural Society (London) and Printed by Umiya Printers (Bhuj, Kutch) The book mentions about Mistris of Kutch & their railway works & architects.
  • Indian Coal Statistics . India (Republic). Dept. of Mines. 1915