Mumbai, November 8, 2016: Bhagnaris are one of the many communities that have made Mumbai their home over time and their presence in this city is dated back to the Partition. Comprising around 150 families that have settled down in Kataria Colony of Shivaji Park. The community of the Bhagnaris originate from Balochistan and got displaced at the time of the Partition and they are often lazily mistaken with the Sindhis.
Ramesh Poplay, the 64 year old Vice President of the ‘Shree Bhagnari Panchayat’, says, “Kataria colony is named after Takandas Kataria, who built the colony in 1961 and was instrumental in helping the community settle in Mumbai.”
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According to The Indian Express, a member of the community Hari Nasta says, the community was originally the inhabitants of the twin villages named ‘Bhag’ and ‘Nar’ in the southern zone of Balochistan. With trade and business activities as major involvements, in a Muslim dominated region of those plains, a lot of people sought to migration to other regions including Sindh and Punjab, looking for better opportunities.
Many of the community eventually settled in the port city of Karachi about a century before the Partition. According to reports, Poplay said, “Among the ones who migrated after Partition, many community members came to Mumbai.” The first record of the Panchayat of the community dates back to 1930.
Presently headed by the President Lachu Gehi, the Panchayat of the Bhagnar community works for the betterment of the members, matrimonial activities and is also strongly active on bringing the community together. As per reports from The Indian Express, Poplay further informs that the language spoken by the community is ‘Saraiki’ which is a common dialect in Pakistan.
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Poplay says that the language is spoken by the elder members of the community. “Youngsters can understand it but they mostly do not speak it. We are making attempts to retain it in our youth. We have put up a dictionary on our website with common words and usage with an English translation. We also recently launched a mobile App called the Bhagnari dictionary. The language does not have a script and can be written in Arabic or Devanagri.”
Many of the youngsters of the community, like Rishika who works as a teacher, have recently put together a new project. “While we love the food cooked by our elders, not many of us know how to make it. I had drawn up a list of members of the community who made the best of our signature dishes and recorded the process for a cookbook,” says Rishika to The Indian Express. The book is available on their official website and it offers recipes for 44 dishes that include the famous ‘Khatti Dal’, that is claimed by the members to be a unique offering by the community.
According to reports from The Indian Express, Poplay further states that visits by any member of the community living across the globe, to their ancestral home in Karachi, still generates nostalgia. “We know of localities including Bhagnaripada, Mithadar and Kharadar, where our community members lived in the past. Much of it has changed since then and we are told the areas have been converted into commercial spaces,” Poplay was quoted as saying to The Indian Express.
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