CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MY SINDHI BRETHREN
Since my childhood, I have been exceptionally fond of reading and traveling. In my early teens, I had already completed reading of many trendy books such as Alif Laila, Char Darvesh, Hatimtai, Sindbad the Sailor (stories of Arabian nights) etc. Moreover, I had also read conventional Religious books, which inspired me & encouraged me, even at the risk of my life, to travel alone extensively to far-off places.
This obsession got an added momentum when I acquired my first job as a Railway Guard. I traveled to each and every part throughout the length & breadth of India, right from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari & Assam to Dwarka. During my 4 years tenure as a Customs officer, and added to that my 29 years of legal practice, I have extensively traveled to Europe ,Canada, U.S.A., Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore & Dubai etc. and have minutely noted some interesting details of those countries and also of the affectionate Sindhi brethren staying there.
While traveling in India, I gradually became fond of meeting more and more of my Sindhi brethren. Consequently, I have been traveling and staying out of my own home nearly 4-5 months every year since 1987. During this period, I have been staying some times alone and other times with Shri Bhagwandas S. Budhrani, at Railway Retiring Rooms, RSS Karyalayas, Sindhu Bhavans and Sindhi Dharmashalas or Ashrams, economical hotels etc. at my own expense.
During this period, I must have visited over 150 cities & towns and met the officials of various Sindhi Organizations which have been doing yeoman's service at those places. I also have had meetings with the members of Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha in the capacity of organizing Secretary. After noting all the relevant details of the community and after compiling it as an article, I have been getting it published in various Sindhi, Devanagari & English Newspapers. I have even been distributing photocopies of the same articles along with other Sindhi, national & spiritual literatures at all pertinent places and have been regularly sending these reports to the Mumbai Head Office of Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha and other organizations. Till date, I have compiled articles of about 154 cities & towns, as per my available records, which have individually been published in many Sindhi, Devanagari & English Newspapers. I now humbly present to you, all those articles along with some of my other articles in a book form, which is being published in Sindhi (both scripts) as well in English.
I must confess that, after meeting with enthusiastic and affectionate Sindhi Brethren particularly from small towns, and by distributing Literature, I have been always feeling unparallel peace of mind and happiness. Such feelings are as inexpressible .. Really, the taste of pudding is in eating it personally!
In such a warm welcoming atmosphere, my determination & passion for travel has developed multi fold! Today, in spite of being over 82 years of age, & in spite of the normal health problems, and traveling in sleeper class; some times even without reservation, with irregular sleep & having outside food & other difficulties, I still don't feel any discomfort. This is mainly due to the inspiration & enthusiasm of doing social work & due to the yearning for getting the aforesaid love and affection. In other words, one doesn't mind getting physical discomfort, if in exchange one gets mental, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction. It will not be an exaggeration to say that, perhaps one can never get so much love & affection even at one's own home!
If you don't believe, please set the sails and visit our Sindhi brethren yourself!!
One important point which I noticed in these cities was that, to keep alive our Sindhi identity, the photo frames of Jhulelal Sai are frequently displayed at Sindhi Shops / offices or homes as inspired by Padmashree late Prof. Ram Punjwani. Wherever these were unavailable, the people promised to display them as soon as they would get one. These photo frames were also sent by Bangalore Sindhi Samaj to some cities on request, and they are ready to send these even today.
Furthermore, what can I say about Sindhi Schools, day by day, the Sindhi schools are getting closed which is a sad state of affairs. The pitiable condition today is that, even as a subject the Sindhi language is not taught in the schools, in these cities (barring very few cities). However, private or night Sindhi language classes are run in some cities. Nonetheless, the real elevating point is that, in those very cities, particularly in small towns, the people still mainly speak Sindhi language among themselves & at home. Thus they alone have truly preserved our rich language & culture. They are the real torch bearers of Sindhiyat. Sindhis of big cities should learn from them. I also observed that Sindhis are mainly business oriented and in some cities, they control the main businesses and on the whole, are quite well off. They are often united & meet among themselves on happy & unhappy occasions, normally keep good relations with local people. So far I have never seen any city where annual festivals like Chetichand are not celebrated! Nevertheless, in Government & private jobs, they are lagging behind and they do not take interest in acquiring political power.
The chief purpose of writing this book is that Sindhis - particularly the younger generation - should get an awareness and eagerness for visiting the "Zinda Dil" Sindhis in other cities & towns and merge with them in order to boost the morale for keeping alive Sindhiyat. Then they would really feel the necessity of demanding our legitimate rights from the government by creating consensus and forming a coordinating body (as I get such suggestions almost in every city). Then, in the long run our dream of getting a Sindhi state in India would be fulfilled. If this basic problem is solved all other problems will automatically be solved and thus our ancient rich heritage, language & Sanskriti of Mohen-jo-daro days, will be preserved & shall continue to develop further and further. With these views in mind, I have created a directory of important Sindhis of all these cities in this book as well as on my blog mentioned below so that Sindhis of these cities can come together through the Internet as well.
As Shri Krishna has said in the 3rd chapter of Bhagwat Geeta that a person who has taken from the Society but does not repay back in any way, is a thief, so I strongly believe that, through writing this book as an instrument of God, I may be able to reduce the obligation of my community on myself to some extent. Besides this book will work as a guide to those readers who are interested in meeting other Sindhis in these cities. However, it is not possible to write all details in this book. Thus, for all further enquiries please feel free to contact me at the following address.
I am sincerely thankful to Sindhi Jyot, Sindhi Academy Delhi, all Sindhi Newspapers / Magazines, books such as Hindustan, Hindavasi, Hindu, Sandesh Bharat, Akhand Sindhu Sansar (Devanagiri) , Jai Amarlal and Samavad Sindhi (Hindi) and Sindhi International, Sindhyat, Aseen Sindhi (English) newspapers for gladly publishing my tour reports and other articles, without any cuts, in their respective publications. This has enabled me to continue distribution of their Xerox copies along with other literature to Sindhis in every city. I am grateful to late Shri Bhagwandas S. Budhrani who has been my companion and guide (at least in 30 cities) in my above mentioned places. I am also obliged to Prof Naren Israney who has written the foreword for this book. He has also given me many useful suggestions & guidance. Last but not the least, I am thankful to all my friends, who have always encouraged & inspired me to write this book.
MOHANLAL GURMUKHDAS ROHIRA
Add:- 148/301, Uphaar, 10th Road, Khar, Khar (W), Mumbai-400 052
Tel: (022) 26497670/9321448147 - 15.12.2007 (Ist Edition), 15.12.2008 (IInd Edition), 1.4.2010 (IIIrd Edition), 1.10.2011 (IVth Edition) 1.7.2012 (Vth Edition) 1.9.2013 (VIth Edition)
It is really a miracle that in a very short span of time after the partition of India, our Sindhi brethren have achieved enormous success in all walks of life. Be it in the field of Education or Training, Hospitals or Hotels, ,Film industry or Construction, we shall find at least one Sindhi among the top five. This statement is true not only in India but all over the world. It has rightly been said, "For Sindhis Nothing is Impossible".
One more fact about all of us is that, "Sindhis are born philanthropists".
We strongly believe that it is our moral duty to repay to the society what we have received from it. Though of course, each one of us repays this debt in different way. Some of us feel satj1sfied just by sharing their materialistic belongings. But, the more blessed and greatly inspired ones constantly invest their Time, Talent and Energy for the betterment of the society. Shri Mohan Gurmukhdas Rohira is one such self motivated, honest and noble soul.
For the last 25 years, he has been traveling tirelessly and determinedly throughout India and abroad. His main objective being, to have close encounters with the Sindhi brethren, to capture the fragrance of Sindhiyat and to build a fantastic garland by adding different flavours of Sindhi culture from some parts of the world and specially from every nook and corner of India. It is in fact, nothing less than a Herculean task which no ordinary man would ever dare to endeavor. But, here we have an energetic, enthusiastic and devout Shri Mohan G.Rohira who, like Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi- Bapuji, and other such great human beings, understands the value of traveling to meet people personally and wishes to have a heart-to-heart talk with them, study them and learn from their life style.
Surprisingly, this interesting fact does not end here. Shri Mohan G. Rohira, records all his experiences meticulously, writes amazing articles and gets them published in some popular local Sindhi Magazines and News Papers. Yet again, he simply refuses to relax at that point. He goes still further. He makes photo-copies of all those wonderful articles and to spread the fragrance that he has gathered so painstakingly, circulates the same among Sindhis staying in various other parts of India. What a brilliant way of creating a strong Net work!
Isn't it simply incredible!!
But, then it is also a concrete proof that for us, "Everything is Possible"!!
People like Shri Mohan G.Rohira rightly are the true pillars of Sindhiyat, the sincere guardians of our Culture and Heritage, the Initiators of spreading awareness of Sindhiyat among youngsters.
Till such hardworking, truthful, determined and dear Sindhi brethren are around, I have strong faith that our Sindhi Language, Culture, Heritage and Literature-Everything is more than SAFE.
My humble salutes to Shri Mohan G.Rohira.
Long live Sindhiyat.
Long live such Selfless, Silent and Sincere Workers of Sindhiyat.
Prof. Naren S. IsraneyR. D. National College,
Bandra (W), Mumbai-400050.
On 1st April 1975 (Chetichand Day) our Respected and Dear father Shri Gurmukhdas Radhomal Rohira (Mahesarai of Pirgoth - Sindh), and on 13th April 1985 (Vaisakhi Day) our Respected and Dear mother Smt. Kimatbai Gurmukhdas Rohira left for Heavenly Abode. Their Noble life and teachings are still guiding us. May their blessings be showered on our whole family forever.
Manghandas, Mohanlal, Gobindram & Nanikram (Sons),
Devidas, Omprakash, Tulsidas, Sanjay, Nitesh & Yogesh (Grandsons),
Rohit, Rahul, Hitesh, fIaresh, Harsh, Prithvi, Sahil & Vedant (Great Grandsons),
Rishabh (Great Great Grandson)
Rohira Bradari, Relatives & Friends.
Originally published in Sindhi and Devanagari in Sindhu Jyot, Sindhi Academy, Delhi – ‘Virhango’ 1998 and in English in SINDHI INTERNATIONAL (monthly) – January, 1998
This pertains to a period when the organs of our beloved Bharatmata were cut to many pieces and all such pieces except one were given to traitors mainly Pakistan. The only piece escaped from traitors was India i.e., Bharat. Such a tragedy was followed by a huge bloodshed and a large scale displacement of refugees from both sides that is India and Pakistan which brought about ruin and despair to thousands of families. Sindhi Hindus became the main victims of such partition in so far as unlike Punjab and Bengal, whole of Sindh was eclipsed by Pakistan. Hindus in Sindh were mainly businessmen, zamindars and landlords and consequently by leaving Pakistan they could not carry buildings and lands with them.
As far as my memory helps, I left my native place i.e. Pir Jo Goth on 03/01/1948 for Sakhar with my elder brother and his family. We stayed a night in Sakhar. I was fond of travelling and touring, (Even today). I visited Shri Sadubela, and other places in Sakhar on 4-1-48 with my cousin and then we left Sakhar for Karachi of the same night of 4/5-1-48 simply because my brother said that it was risky to stay in Pakistan even a day more than was necessary. We reached Karachi on 5-1-48 evening and cleared our luggage from railway station on the same day relying on the earlier noted opinion of my brother.
On the early morning of Tuesday, the so called ill fated 6th January, 1948, I left Karachi home with my cousin as we both were interested in travelling. We were surprised to see trams and entered one going to Kiamari, Thus we saw Kiamari and forgot the address where we had stayed for previous night. Luckily one of our relatives Mr. Rochiram met us and helped us in reaching home and we reached home at about 1.00 p.m. safely in time.
Trouble and chaos started all over the city as soon as we reached home. There was looting, rioting and firing everywhere. Electric wires were kept at the door to check the looters from entering our building at the ground floor where looters were taking away the bales of cloth. We thanked God for arriving earlier safely from Karachi railway station and clearing luggage in time and also for reaching home safely before the troubles started after noon of 6th January. We were shocked to see a women with ears cut whose earrings were taken away by the looters.
My brother used to wear Jinah cap while going outside home for shopping. We were compelled to stay in Karachi for a week due to unsafe condition and curfew order and after a week we got a chance to come to Kiamari docks where a ship (probably Netravati) was scheduled to disembark on that day. Travelling ·in the ship was free of charge and first come first serve was the principle. There were 2 separate lines for going on board the ship-one for gents and other for ladies and children. As I was about 12 years old, I went on aboard the ship along with my brother's wife and sister by
ladies line. When the ladies line was over the gangway was taken away on the a plea that the ship had reached the load line with the result that the majority of the gents could not reach on board. At that time my brother tried to reach the ship by climbing the ropes which were attached to the ship from the docks but the move was foiled by a police constable. One of my cousins also made a similar dramatic move when there was no police constable and he was successful in reaching on board by holding the ropes in the hands grip without any support from downwards and while doing so one of his shoes fall in the sea and other on the ship. We thanked God that at least one of the male members was with us while going to India.
Thus the ship sailed and left Kiamari docks, leaving many of the male members at the docks. As the ship reached far and far from Karachi port there was a rumour that bullets were shot at Kiamari which caused a great cry among the women and children on board the ship. Our ship was scheduled for Okha port, but all of a sudden it changed its direction after staying full night in the sea and reached near Navalakhi port in Saurashtra. The reasons for the change were better known to the authorities concerned. We were brought to the Navalakhi port by launches as it is a small port. At the port we were served with 'puri-bhaji' and free accommodation by Congress Volunteers. We were anxious to meet brother and cousin who were left at Karachi. We used to sit near the bank of the port and watch and every person whenever any new ship came there and also when any train arrived from Okha, since our ship was originally bound for Okha. My brother and cousin went to Okha firstly by launches and remained 3 days on launch without food and water and then reached Navlakhi by train after knowing the whereabouts of our ship 'Netravati'. We all were overjoyed to meet one another and on same night we left for Rajkot where one of our cousins Mr. Balchand had come some months back and got established himself.
So friends, such is the tragic story of migration which I cannot forget. I feel all those occurrences and experiences as happening today. Really this partition which is cultivated by the folly of our leaders has brought about ruin and desperation to everyone. We were compelled to leave Pakistan to save our sacred religion which was unsafe in Pakistan. Otherwise who would like to leave his motherland - the place of birth of our forefathers - as well as the property, buildings and lands.
Once again I thank God for keeping us safe and prosperous throughout the difficulties and pray God that he would be kind enough to bless us so that we can do something in our life for the betterment of our community and also God would be kind enough to undo the partition.