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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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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.