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Partition, Diaspora and Culture: Decadence of Sindhi Community

After the partition and creation of Pakistsn, Sindhi Hindus came straight to Kalyan and other parts of Maharashtra as refugees

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Vintage group photo of Indian Sindhi people. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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August 25, 2016: It was after the Partition of India, the largest human resettlement in the world, that many communities — large or small, migrated from across the borders. Hindus and Muslims were now refugees and ‘kaafirs’ — but the silent partition of the province of Sindh and the struggle of the Sindhi community has gone unnoticed since the onset of the 1947 tensions. Sindhis are a socio-ethnic group of people that belonged to Sindh, today in Pakistan.

After the partition, people from this ethnicity migrated to India and non-Sindhis resettled in Pakistan, which reshaped the demographic semblance of the province of Sindh. Like Punjab has predominantly Punjabi speakers, and Bengalis got Bengal, the problem of the Sindhi community doubles up due to no homogeneity of Sindhi speakers and residents in a particular state. Sindhis were not rehabilitated to a state to suffice their linguistic and socio-cultural needs and therefore, the stress of homeland shall always prevail.

The province of Sindh (marked red) Source: Wikimedia Commons
The province of Sindh (marked red), Pakistan
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Problems with finding a new shelter:
Sindhi as a language was used for cultural purposes, in literature and local administration during the British colonial rule. Post the partition and the creation of Pakistan, Sindhis as a community got divided up as Sindhi Hindus and Muslim Hindus. The exodus resulted in Sindhi Hindus segregated in different parts of India, majorly in Adipur and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Ulhasnagar (Maharashtra) and some parts of Rajasthan like Jaipur and Kota.

This refuge resulted in a sense of dislocation and displacement among Sindhis and people from both the nations as a whole, which has been widely written about in literature. Sindhis, who before the partition were largely businessmen and earned their bread well, left all their riches in their homeland that resulted in their mundane lives in India— which they are recovering from, while they wash the terrors of migration with their unending determination.

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The Sindhi language had been recognised as one of the official languages of India in 1967, with over 3.8 million Sindhis presently living in India. They have originated from Sindh but have travelled and settled overseas for business and settlement, which brings up the issue of Sindhi diaspora.

Today, Sindhi merchants are known worldwide for their entrepreneurship skills and began settling in many countries like Hong Kong, UAE, the United States, UK and more. But by late 1990s, the Sindhi diaspora was classified into two groups: the merchants and traders in Africa, the Caribbean and other parts of Asia, and the second category of people more diversified as professionals, especially in Canada, UK and US.

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It is unknown to many that Sufi music had originated from the province of Sindh, and Abida Parveen— one of the biggest faces of Sufism— is a Sindhi. Image source: pakium.pk

Collective efforts to preserve the culture and one’s mother language:

To diversify and familiarise others, Sindhis have vividly contributed in literature. Some of the most notable post-partition Sindhi literary artists are Motilal Jotwani, Moti Prakash, Narayan Bharati and many others. Their literature talked less about the lamentation and grief of partition, but rather put forth a more optimistic portrayal: the writer’s sweet recollection of his homeland and childhood, strong attempts to preserve the Sindhi language, and also sympathised with Sindhi Muslims who were constantly at war with the government for their rights.

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World Sindhi Congress is a UK registered non-profit human rights organisation for Sindhis and their homeland Sindh. Their main objective is to preserve Sindhi culture and stop Islamization of the Sindhi culture and Sufi music tradition. Besides this, they also provide informative material to the public regarding the community, their silent protest for human rights in Pakistan, organise conferences and lectures and also participate in conferences sponsored by the United Nations Organisation. Apart from working towards the betterment of Sindhi community as a whole, they also advocate for separation of Religion and State, women empowerment, denuclearisation and environmental rights.

Another human rights organisation named World Sindhi Institute (WSI) is set up in the Washington DC, to serve the same purpose. A constitutionally acknowledged NPO in March of 1997, the objective of WSI is to bring Sindhi community to the light of the international audience. It brings together Sindhi diaspora descending to Southeastern Pakistan and other parts of the world and also supports the issues of Decentralisation, Demilitarisation, Secularism and Nuclear Disarmament in Pakistan.

– by Chetna Karnani of NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.