Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya
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Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya (also known as Mistri or Mestri) are a minority Hindu and one of the Socially and Educationally rich community of Gujarat in India, whom claim to be Kshatriyas. They are an artisan community related with Kadia works.They are also known as the Mistri a.k.a. Mistris of Kutch.
- 1 History
- 2 Culture
- 3 In Kutch
- 4 Indian railways
- 5 Docks, dams and canals in British India
- 6 Mining
- 7 Downturn in fortunes
- 8 Present status
- 9 References
- 10 Notes
The community is believed to be from Kota and first entered into Saurashtra and founded 36 villages in the area, while others moved further into Kutch. Around 1177–78 AD (VS 1234), a major group migrated to Kutch from Saurashtra under the leadership of Patel Ganga Maru. They settled in the village of Dhaneti. 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.
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.
The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas left Dhaneti and went on to establish eighteen villages in Kutch 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.
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.
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.
The community consists of clans like Rathod, Chauhan, Yadav, Chawda, Jethwa, Padhiar, Yadav, Chudasama, Parmar, Taunk, Khodiyar, Solanki, Sawaria, Vaghela, Vegad, Varu, Maru, Bhalsod, etc., who enjoy same status. However, most of people prefer to pre-fix Mistri to their name.
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.
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 they came to be known as Mistri in Kutch.
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. 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.
Docks, dams and canals in British India
The KGK contributed to the building of docks, dams, barrages and irrigation canals between 1850 and 1980, 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) in which many Mistris of Kutch and Kadia Kshatriyas of Saurahstra worked.
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.
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.
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.
Downturn in fortunes
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.
Distribution in India
KGK community members are found throughout India, notably near to the major rail routes and junctions associated with the work of their forebears. 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.
Social organization and activities in present times
KGK associations exist today in various Indian states, and there are meetings and events organised at local, state and national level. These include match-making events, called Sagpan-Sanmmelan, 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.
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. 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. In 1996 the community elected a woman to be Mahasabha Pramukh, or President of the community.
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, taking cue and inspiration from the Asiad of 1982 Asian Games. The event also coincides with Dance, Music and match-making event. 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.
Religious customs and beliefs in present days
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.
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 founded by their ancestors. The newly weds also go and offer their respects at the Parias of their Satis and Shurapuras located in Kutch.
Present day identity
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.
- "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. Archived from the original on 16 May 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "સમૂહ લગ્નોથી સમાજ ગિઠત થાય / 38th Mass community marriage Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya held at Anjar". Divya Bhaskar. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "HC raps mgmt of Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj-Gondia". Times of India. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "कर्मठ है कच्छ गुर्जर क्षत्रिय समाज (Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj people are hardworking)". Dainik Bhaskar. 6 December 2011. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- "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.
- "In the shambles of Pride of Kutch lies priceless art". Expressindia.com. 2001-03-12. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- 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
- Gujarat, Part 1 By Kumar Suresh Singh, Rajendra Behari Lal. 2003. pp. 912–915.
- List of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes declared by Gujarat State
- Mistri Encyclopaedia of Backward Castes By Neelam Yadav Page 316.
- Kadia, Gurjar Ksahtriya Kadia, Gurjar Kadia Encyclopaedia of Backward Castes By Neelam Yadav Page 264, 316
- Kumar Ganti Itihass (History of Kumar Gnati) Published in year 1896.
- "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.
- "Pradeshik Samiti and Ghatak of KGK". Chawra.com. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Article on Widow Re-marriage (custom of Ghar-gharana) prevalent in Samaj by Nanji Mulji Chauhan of Kurnool. (Samaj Sandesh: 1996 August Page 12)
- Shri K. G. Kshatriya Samaj is a small Gujarat 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.
- 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.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- 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).
- 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 Gujarati 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.
- Encyclopedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa by British Authority (1920)
- "Gazetteers of Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa 1917 Khora Ramji Colliries". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Khora Ramji Mines capsized in 1938. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Jharia Coalfields: Khora Ramji, Narayan Chowra, etc. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- 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)
- Indigenous Enterprise in the Indian Coal Mining Industry c. 1835–1939, C.P. Simmons. Published in 1976.
- Report on the production and consumption of coal in India of 1921 India. Dept. of Statistics (Superintendent Government Printing, 1921 – Technology and Engineering).
- Rethinking Indian culture: challenges and responses by Sitakant Mahapatra, Harish Chandra Das, Abhiram Biswal, Institute of Oriental and Orissan Studies - 2001- Page 32
- Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj, Pune: Sagpan Sanmelean Press Report dated 22 February 2009 Archived 17 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Indian Anthropologist - Volumes - 1966- 26-28 - Page 44
- Trading Community of India: An Anthropological Study of Ethnicity by Nilakantha Panigrahi, Premananda Panda, Premanatha Panda (anthropologist.)- 2000 - Page 188
- "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.
- 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 Jairam. 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.
- 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