To all Bhagnaries.
Our community has lost most of the senior leaders who formed the Panchayat. The formation of our Panchayat dates back to mid-1930 & some of the records & memories are vivid in some surviving members.
Since my exposure I have known Shri Takandas Kataria as the first Mukhi from the early days of Karachi meetings; I know not as living members but through some records which I had the privilege of reading.
I am happy to share only 2 Major decisions of Panchayat with all of you, which were much ahead of the times.
1) The population of our community was so low that anything which was detrimental to the growth of community had to be done away with.
The first thing which had to change must have been deeply explored by our elders which was the matching of the Chhathies of the marriageable girls with the boys Chhathies.
To avoid refusal on the grounds of a miss-match of the chhathies the decision of not making chhathies for girl child was approved in Panchayat meeting.
Respected Ram Maharaj was the religious guide of our community since the Karachi Days & a prominent permanent invitee to all decision making general body meetings; based on his guidance & forward thinking of the panchayat the custom of preparing Chhathies was abolished for girl child.
The respect of the community for the Panchayat was so enormous that since the resolution; our community hardly follows the system of making & matching the chhathies of the girl child.
2) We all are also witness to, that in most of the Hindus the Chautha/Pagri is held in the
3) Mid-evening from 4p.m. to 6p.m.
Our community stands exception to this norm; we hold the choutha ceremony from
10 A.M to 10.30A.M.
The radical change also was resoluted in one of the meeting of Panchayat in Karachi, to facilitate the attendance at Chouthas before the working hours, as most of Bhagnaries either were engaged in small business’ or were in service.
The menace of Dowry was effectively controlled by making norms for Deti Leti, which was binding on both the families in alliance.
Bringing Bhagnaries closer to each other seems to be the only agenda for our forefathers.
As the turmoil of separation grew; our Mukhi Shri Takandas Kataria was in communication with then Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru to allot us suitable land for resettlement in Mumbai.
Many of the Bhagnari families had base in Mumbai prior to partition hence Mumbai was preferred city for resettlement.
There was no sign of help from the Government hence Kataria Colony was created to bring Bhagnaries closer to each other.
Can you imagine the foresight, but for Kataria Colony our community would have become extinct & dispersed in many other castes.
After the sad demise of Mukhi Shri Takandas Kataria;(1966) Sarvashri Harkishandas Gehani, Issardas Kanar,Kanayalal Nasta,Sugnomal Gehani, Naraindas Talreja, Niranjan Gehani have led our community.
We are presently led by Mukhi Shri Lachmandas Gehi.
Under the leadership of Mukhi Shri Lachmandas Gehi the Panchayat is exploring new ways to create brother hood amongst Bhagnaries, helping & growing together.
The days of mass poverty of the known Bhagnaries are by gone, we have become international & prosperous, except for largely unknown Bhagnaries who are not on records of our Panchayat.
The numbers have to be ascertained.
It’s a known fact that poverty or extreme leadership bind people.
Prosperous people are more than willing to help financially,the finances of Panchayat,since the days of Mukhi Naraindas Talreja has become histor.
Shortage of funds in no more as Mukhi Shri Narauindas Talreja successfully embarked upon creating a self-sufficient corpus for the requirements for medical, charitable, financial & educational help which our Panchayat continues to perform with adequate funds at disposal.
No dramatic or big ticket developments have happened in last few years largely because feeling of self-sufficiency & satisfaction in doing the routine.
The urgent want of surveying & head counting of poor Bhagnaries & their future requirements has not happened. The survey is essential tool to plan the next move which the Panchayat should take up.
I am fortunate to have been exposed to the working of Panchayat since the Days of my father Mukhi Shri Harkishindas Gehani; I have accompanied him along with the Bhagnari doyens happily driving the car for them during these visits, he had to make visits to places such as Matunga Camp (E) Kurla, Chembur Camp, Thane (E) Kopri Village & Kalyan & Ulhasnagar belt where many Bhagnaries were staying in miserable conditions except for some well settled in Kalyan & Ulhasnagar belt.
These trips were made to have the first hand information & to assess the future needs of our brethren’s & to create local representatives at all these locations who would inform the Panchayat of the requirements of needy Bhagnari brothers in their local areas.
All these local leaders were part of all the meetings of Panchayat which created awareness of the plight of our own people needing help amongst our community making lives of many, little comfortable & liveable
We will rarely find a needy approaching others for help unless one is in dire need of help to survive.
The concept during the old days was to find the needy & help; & not to help on asking.
Presently many of our people need housing, we have to create another Kataria Colony to bring scattered Bhagnaries under a roof like Kataria Colony, educate the generation as that is the only way to empower them to self-sufficiency, growth & beyond.
When a system starts functioning on wider goal, many ideas & people come forward to help that is when the functionality becomes visible.
We require teams to bring in the gush, new & radical approach to meet impossible targets to make lives happier; many larger communities have achieved more than what I am dreaming for us hence I feel it is possible.
We may have to set in some norms for leadership & also the team members who may lead us in future.
First is the age of the leader; having considered the past, I feel that the Panchayat should have the mix of experienced elders & qualified youngsters.
The Mukhi should be in the age bracket of 55 to 65 years & should not continue thereafter.
Our past makes a valid point towards the age factor of the leader & their performance.
Mukhi Shri Takandas Kataria was in his mid-30s when he took charge; Mukhi Harkishindas Gehani was in his mid-40s when he took over charge after the sad demise of Mukhi Takandas Kataria in 1966.
The vigour & the zeal are very important to dream big & achieve big. We have very talented youngsters in our community, Doctors, software engineers, MBA’s to company secretaries you name & we have them ready to embark upon the projects which we dream of.
The experience of elders is equally impressive, practical, political & strategic; guidance is at the door to be garnered together & see a next wave of big get-together.
Prakash H Gehani.