Muslim Bhadala Jamat

Bhadala ( _gu. ; _ar. بدل; _hi. ) an ethnic group originating from India and Pakistan trace their roots to Kati Bandar (Katiport in Sindh,a place near Karachi in Pakistan - where they migrated to Koteshwar before heading to Royan and Mandis Bhodala Phool then to Juna Salaya at the invitation of the the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who was pleased with the navigation skills of this particular people and finally settling in Mota Salaya near Mandvi in India given to them on lease for a 100 years free of cost by Maharaj Pragmalji the then King of Kutch. A Sunni Muslim community predominantly adheres to Hanafi Sunni Islam although some are Maliki. Historically most of them are seamen who travel around the world, but as they expanded and settled in new places they shifted to business and other fields. The Bhadalas speak typical Kutchi in its pure form a bit different from how the other Sunni Jamaats speak. However due to the fact that Bhadalas shifting to different places and adopting different cultures the original language is lost and instead what is around now is a hybrid of the original and the local area languages of residence.

History

The name Bhadala basically means seamen or fishermen or one who earns a livehood by catching fish and navigating the sea. They are also called Bhodala in Saurashtra region.

Origins

Not much is known about Bhadala origins as the Bhadala community has been depending on oral history in order to determine their origins but one source Kumar Suresh writes in his book Gujarat that the Bhadalas are said to have migrated from Arabia. Another source states that the Bhadala are believed to have migrated from Salaya Mandia to Jamsalya, Jamnagar, Veraval, Dwarka, Bet and Porbandar port of Saurashtra. ("A volume written by Mr. Kumar Suresh, part 2, pages 52 and 53").

Branches

Bhadala community may be divided into two main groups. Those who traced their ancestors from Salaya region are identified as Salaya Bhadala and they speak Kutchi dialects. Those who traced their ancestry to Narayansarovor are identified as simply Narayansarovor Bhadala or Vagher. The Salaya Bhadala consider the Narayansarovor Bhadala as Vagher and not Bhadala and that they claimed to be Bhadalas for fear of Hindus at Koteshwar.

Bhadalas, divided into around 40 ataks of diverse regional and ethnic origins which generally refer to their ancestors. They include "Aspun, Meman, Thaima,Turak, Dosani, Fatwani, Vidhani, Sameja, Chana, Kana, Juneja, Jadeja, Sayani, Karani, Nakhrani, Bhatti, Sodha , & the Bholim were and are the most and reserved type of family. the Bholim are the only Bhadala family who are settled in the world then the other Bhadala community.tomention a few and they are allequal in status. The community considers itself superior to Langha and scheduled castes but rank lower than Brahman, Lohana and Miyanji (upper caste Muslims like Syed or Sheikh in the local hierachy

Religious Beliefs

Generally‎ a Bhadala is a Muslim person born within a Bhadala family which traces its ancestry back to the descendants of the ‎community originating from Sindh whose members first embraced Islam. They profess the Sunni sect of Islam and they used to worship the "Savla Pir" but they now also worship "Darya-e-Pir" of Mundra (who is considered a chif pir of the sea). They also visit the shrines of five other pirs namely "Makhdoom Ibrahim, Alishah, Nana, Bewar, Achcha Bewa and Hajee Sadar Miya" besides "Hajipir" for the fulfilment of desire/wishes. All important festivals like Ramadhan, Bakris also known as Eid-ul-adha and Moharram are celebrated in accordance with Islamic traditions.

Social Order

The community has a caste-council called Muslim Bhadala Jamat. "The Patel" (headman) is usually elected from amongst the assembled members and he is further assisted by a Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Then other committee members are selected who in turn seat at the different sections of the organising team and serve in committees like Peace Committee, Religious Committee and others. The caste council has no power of imposing penalty on its members thus it tries to persuade its members to abide by its decisions.

Sources

Gujarat by Kumar Suresh, Rajendra Behari Lal


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