Sunday, 14 February 2016
The Muslim Banjaras are a Muslim community found in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in India. Many members of this community migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and have settled in Karachi and Sindh. They are also known as the Rahmani, especially in Uttar Pradesh, and they use Rahmani as their surname.
The Banjara are a nomadic community. Their name is said to be campound of ban (forest) and jara (burning); the community lived by burning forests. According to another tradition, the name is derived from the Sanskrit word vanijiya or bania - kara, which means merchant. The Muslim Banjara are Muslim converts of the larger Banjara community of India. In Uttar Pradesh, the community consists of twelve gotras, the Banel, Omraha, Tikhand, Charuna, Nauni, Kalishingh, and Kakri being the main ones. While in Madhya Pradesh, they have two sub-divisions, the Landhe and the Hundhe. They are said to have immigrated from Rajasthan about 300 to 350 years, and still speak a dialect of Rajasthani. In Gujarat, the Banjaras call themselves Chhakda and Chhakoda Banjara. The name Chhakda is derived from the word Chhakda Gari, which is the Gujarati term for a Hackney carriage. The community was traditional employed as carriage drivers, as well as keepers of horses. Like the Banjara of North India, the Gujarat Banjaras claim to have originally come from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. They still speak Marwari among themselves and Gujarati with outsiders.
In North India they are mainly cattle traders and breeders. Before the start of the agriculture season, they sell their cattle on credit. They are a landless community, depending on the selling of cattle. They are strictly endogamous, but no longer practice clan exogamy. While in Gujarat, the community is small scale farmers and agricultural labourers. A small number is also involved in the selling of milk. The Banjara Muslims have a caste council (biradari panchayat), which settles criminal offences like adultery and rape. The caste council is headed by a naik, and consists of fifteen members. They also have set up the All India Banjara Muslim Federation, which is an India wide caste association. They belong to the Sunni sect, but like other North Indian Muslim communities, their practices incorporate a number of folk beliefs. They pay homage to the local deity, Gurgaon wali Mata. In Uttar Pradesh they are concentrated in and around the districts of Sharanpur, Bijnor, Pilibhit, Bareilly, Aligarh, Muzaffarnagar, Etawah, Moradabad,Mathura, Etah and Agra districts. A few are also found in the Nainital District of Uttarakhand. In Madhya Pradesh, they are found in the districts of Jabalpur, Chhindwara and Mandla. While in Gujarat, they are found in the districts of Panchmahal,Kheda, Ahmedabad, and Sabarkantha.
BANJARAS IN SIKH RELIGION
MAKKHAN SHAH LUBANA was an Indian merchant who had trade links with far-off countries. He took merchandise from India to sell in far-off countries. Once a ship carrying Makkhan Shah's consignments was struck by a storm. The ship was sinking slowly. Makkhan Shah then prayed silently to Guru Teg Bahadur. What followed then was not less than a miracle. The ship began to emerge as if some strong shoulder supported and sailed her ashore. In his prayer, Makkhan Shah had promised to present five hundred gold coins in his service. When his ship was saved and reached home safely, Makkhan Shah went straight away to Bakale to see Guru Tegh Bahadur.
He had taken five hundred gold coins with him to present it to the Guru. There, he saw 22 imposters in the guise of the Guru. Sequentially, he put five coins before each of them. He was sure that the real Guru would unfailingly remind him of his promise to pay five hundred coins. When none of the 22 Gurus reminded him of his promise, Makkhan Shah understood that they were all imposters. Ultimately, he reached Bhora where Guru Teg Bahadur was performing penance. The Guru's both shoulders were bleeding profusely. Makkhan Shah put five coins before him too, but the Guru reminded him of five hundred coins. Hearing these words, Makkhan Shah was overjoyed that he had found his Guru. At once, he climbed over a roof and called out loudly: “have found the true Guru”.
LAKHI SHAH BANJARA. Guru Tegh Bahdur was killed by Mogul ruler Aurangazeb in 1675. There was panic all around after Guru Teg Bahadur's death. With the suggestion of Lakhi Shah Banjara, Bhai Jaita and Bhai Uda arranged to take the head and the torso of Guru Teg Bahadur in their custody. Lakkhi Shah Banjara reached Chandni Chowk and carried Guru's torso in a bullock cart to his home three miles away. There, setting his house on fire, he performed last rites of the Guru. There exists a Gurudwara Rakabganj in New Delhi at the site of cremation. On the other hand, Bhai Jaita found the head of Guru. With Bhai Uda, he took the head and reached to Gobind Singh. Gobind Singh embraced both of them and said: 'Rang Rete Guru Ke Bete' (the true sepoys are the sons of Guru). At the place where Guru Teg Bahadur's head was cremated in Chandni Chowk, there exists Gurudwara Shishganj now.
Sant Sevalal Maharaj was born on 15 Feb,1739 to parents Shri Dharmani Yaadi (mother) and Shri Bhima Naik(father) and hence sevalal jayanthi is celebrated by members of Banjara community on 15th February every year.
Seva Bhaya born as Shiv Rathod is considered to be an incarnation of lord Siva and was blessed by goddess Mariama yadi. The goddess is said to have given a pill of dirt collected from her body to a banjara woman saying that a great man will be born from that pill. The banjara woman swallowed it and gave birth to Seva Bhaya.
Mariama yadi also called as goddess of small pox, responsible for Seva Bhaya’s birth, fell in love with him. But he refused and hence the goddess haunted him throughout his life. Ultimately she killed him and his cremation place at Pohradevi in Washim district of Maharastra has become a pilgrim centre for banjaras.
While Banjara Leaders led by late Mr.Ranjit Naik were trying to locate the birth place of Bhagawan Sevalal, in the year 1998, near Charlopalli (Sevagad, Near Guntakal in Andhra Pradesh), another group of Banjara Leaders have identified a place called Suryagondanakoppa, about 15 kilometers from Shivamoga city of Karnataka as the birth place of Sevalal. Finally both the groups have concluded that Sevalal was born in Suryagondanakoppa and brought up in Charlopalli Thanda.
Banjara community members have now built a temple of Sevalal and another one for Mariyamma or Amba Bhavani at Suryagondanakoppa. To reach Suryagondanakoppa, one has to travel to Shivmoga city by bus or train which is about 250 kilometers from Bangalore. From Shivmoga travel up to Savalanga village on Honnalli Road which is about 10 kilometers from Shivamoga then, take diversion on Shikaripura Road and travel about 5 kilometers to reach Suryagondanakoppa. The priest and his family members reside near the temple and available for performing pooja.
Mithu Bhukia is revered among Banjaras as the god of power and fortune. It is said that he is venerated by the banjara dacoits as the cleverest dacoits known in the annals of banjara caste and a hut is usually set apart for him, in banjara hamlet with a white flag being planted before his hut. Before setting out for dacoity the men would assemble at the hut of Mithu Bhukia and light a lamp for him to ask for an omen. If the wick of the lamp dropped the omen was propitious, and the men would set-out at once on the raid, without returning home. They might not speak to each other. Challenged, for if any one spoke, charm would be broken and the protection of Mitu Bhukya removed, and they should either return, to take omens again or give-up that particular dacoity altogether. It has been recorded as characteristic trail of Banjaras, that they will as a rule, not answer, if spoken to when engaged in robbery and the custom, probably arises from this observance.
But the worship of this Mitu Bhukia is frequently neglected. After successful, dacoity a portion of the plunder has to be set apart for Mitu Bhukia; and of the balance, the Naik (the headman) receive two shares if he participated in the crime, the man who struck the first blow, or did the most to the common object received two share and all the rest one share each. With Mithu Bhukia's share, feast is given for all the participating men. For the success of the dacoity, incense is burned in his hut and liquor, poured over the flagstaff. A portion of food sent for the women and children and then men will set down to feast. Women are not allowed, to worship Mitu Bhukia or to enter his hut.
Saturday, 13 February 2016
MOLA DADA STORY
Mola and Mota were two brothers engaged in the court of legendary Krishna. Krishna, disgusted with material life, distributed his belongings including the crown among his people. Mola and Mota were not present at the time and when they came back, Mola, who was very close to Krishna, asked Krishna as to what his share was. Krishna decided that since Mola is his most intimate friend, he should be given something invaluable and dearest to Krishna. Krishna gave Radha to Mola. Mola and Radha got married, but they could not have marital life because of Radha’s divinity.
Both of them, worried about their successors, devised a plan according to which they toured three empires, where, Radha danced and Mola sang. When the kings were impressed and asked what Mola and Radha wanted, they asked for a prince from each empire. Thus they collected three princes from three empires and brought them up as the children of Radha and Mola.
In those days, girls were supposed to be married before attaining puberty. A brahmin family had three girls who had attained puberty but were not married and hence the family was excommunicated by the society. As the family is sleeping under the tree, it came into contact with the foster children of Mola and Radha and the three girls were married to them. The children born out of these marriages are none other than Banjaras.
Banjaras claim to be descendants from Mota & Mola – two brothers who tended Shri Krishna’s cows. From Mota sprang the ancestors of modern Marwaris; Mathuria Banjaras and Labhanas. Mola having no issue visited the Prince’s Court with wife Radha, and there exhibited the gymnastic feats in which he was adept. The Prince was so pleased with Mola’s skill and so charmed with Radha's beauty & grace that he gave them as a reward three infant boys, of different castes, whom they adopted as their sons. In course of time these boys grew up and married. Their progeny has/have been collectively called as Chaaran Banjaras.
Rich Marwaris and poor Banjaras
It is said that the sons of Mola and Mota were transporting gold, diamond and pearls in their caravans. En route the god is said to have appeared in the form of a sage and asked the sons of Mota about what are they transporting and they said the truth. But the sons of Mola told the sage that they are transporting stones and mud. The god cursed the sons of Mola to remain poor for ever for telling lies and blessed the sons of Mota for their honesty.