KHOJA DIASPORA

 

<<I could not resist sending this on; from a Ismaili-Canadian friend (not the author) currently residing in London. WOW! Prakash, what a treat! That was great "relief" after all this "Peace March and War with Iraq" stuff that I usually tend to get entangled in. I could identify with that story completely. In fact, I got a little emotional when I read through the story.>>

 Very emotional! This is what our Diaspora is all about. Irrespective of us being Hindus or Muslims, the Gujaratis overall are emotional, tender and peace loving people (I can't believe the present inter communal mess in Gujarat, it must be the work of certain anti social elements). 

When we visit Gujarat those relatives/associates/contacts are so cordial and affectionate (the cynics may pronounce them as selfish or opportunists). Everything seems exclusively different to us. Personally I was overwhelmed by the sight of 'Khojavad' at Jamnagar, my ancestral town. I was given a VIP treatment and taken around. I was shown my grandfather's photograph which adorns the wall of the Khoja Boarding House. I was even escorted to the house where they had been staying. 

In Bhavnagar, the guest house where I had put up held 'bhajan' at its rooftop on 'amas' night and there I (the teetotaler) was coaxed into smoking. I went on to smoke a packet a day for almost 25 years. The people in Kutch (Bhuj, Mandvi, Mundra, Kero) from where my maternal hailed were also gracious and invited me for lunch and dinner (bajrano rotlo, daal, bhaat and chash). I was introduced to my maternal grandfather's munim, an old and ailing Hindu fellow, so humble and obliging. 

Interestingly in Kathiawar as well as Kutch, the concentration of Khojas is in one place, known as 'Khojavad'. There we are not referred to as Ismailis or Ithnashris but 'vaddi jamaat' (Ismailis) and nindhi jamaat (Ithnashris). Also the mosque and 'jamatkhana' stand side by side. I found all this very peculiar. In fact there are very few Khojas left there. Many had migrated to East Africa in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Most of those left behind shifted to Pakistan (responding to a call by Khoja Mohamedali Jinnah) during the partition in 1947. 

The Diaspora that had its roots in Gujarat is now spread all around, some languishing in torrid conditions while others zooming in prosperity and oblivious of their counterparts.

   

                                                                                                                                                                                


Last updated November 2007 Copyright Abdulrazak Fazal 2007 - All Rights Reserved