Gurjar Kshatriya Kadia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gurjar Kshatriya / Gurjar Kshatriya Kadia also known as Kadia Kshatriya are a minority Backward, Hindu community of Gujarat state, India. They are artisan community, occupation is masonry work and are related to larger ethnic community of Kadias.
The names of these villages are Ambala, Badanpur, Balambha, Bangaur, Bhimkata, Bhensdad, Bodka, Chavda, Dhrangdhra, Dhudkot, Dudhai, Fatsar, Jaiva, Jamsar, Jamyanthali, Jashapar, Jiragadh, Jivapar, Jodia, Kesia, Kharachia, Kotharia, Madhapar, Manamora, Manekpar, Manpar - Hirapar, Mavnagam, Meghpar, Morana, Padana, Rampar, Ranjitpar, Rohisada, Shampar, Untebshampar and Tankara.
They also live in large numbers in towns like Ahmedabad, Savarkundla, Dhrangadhra, Amreli, Rajula, Mahuva, Koliyak, Hajipur, Konjli, Bapda, Bhallar, Bhavnagar, Talaja, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Visavadar, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Gondal, Dwarka, Vapi, Valsad, Godhra, Bilimora, Chikhli, Gandevi, Navsari, Diu, Daman in Saurashtra, Gujarat.
Traditionally, the community is involved in masonry works i.e. Kadia works and are expert architects and builders. They are generally involved in construction works, brick making and stone shaping works. Many of them are involved in Contractor business. However, with increase of literacy, the young generations are now also involved in services and other jobs.
Religion and customs
The community follows Hindu rituals and Hindu gods and goddess. Further, they also worship Vishwakarma, the Hindu presiding deity of all craftsmen and architects and their Kuladevata and Shurapuras. The community members attend the Shivaratri festival held at Junagadh - Girnar in large numbers, where the community also owns a large dharamshala.
The Hindu rites of marriage are followed and they are an endogamous community who practice the principle of clan exogamy. Mass community marriages are also held by community during Vasant Panchami since more than last two decades beginning in year 1986.
The common surname among them areGARNARA, Chothani,Vaghela, Chawda, Parmar, Chauhan, Chotalia, Makwana, Taunk, Gohil, Lalani, Mavadia, Solanki, Bajania, Rathor, Vandra, Vanara, Poria, Kukadia, Mistry, Maru, Varu, Wasani, Aajugiya, Vala, Jethwa, Kacha, Gediya, Bhatti, Bavaria, Mevad, Lakhani, Mavatia, etc.
The community was in news when in 2008, the two boys of their community studying in Ashram run by Asaram Bapu at Ahmedabad were found dead in mysterious circumstances alleged to be victim of some tantric practices, which created a huge uproar not only in Gujarat but whole of India and they demanded CBI probe in death of the boys of their community.
Recently in 2012, the community was among the group of other backward community like Modh Vania, Rabari, Ranas, Kolis and Suthar communities, who voiced their vocal protest against policy of increasing the quota of Muslims and reducing quotas of Other Backward Class by ruling Congress government of center.
Kutch Gurjar Kashtriya
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya also known as Mistri or Mestri are a minority Hindu community of the Kutch district of Gujarat state in India. They are a group of various Kshatriya clans who are an artisan community related with Kadia works. They were known for their artistic and master craftsman skills in constructing forts, temples, palaces, ornate decorations, idols and other buildings and statues that led to them being referred to as Mistri by the Portuguese. This term was later used to refer to them as a separate caste known as the Mistri a.k.a. Mistris of Kutch.
Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas are a group of Kshatriya clans who migrated from Rajasthan in the early 7th century AD. Kadia Kshatriyas first entered into Saurashtra at that time and founded thirty-six villages in the area, while others moved further into Kutch. Around 1177–78 AD (VS 1234), a major group migrated to Kutch from Saurashtra under the leadership of Patel Ganga Maru. They settled in the village of Dhaneti, after a battle that they named Dhaneti There are several Parias of the community, located near village pond of Dhaneti, standing as memorials of the war that was fought in 1178 AD. The community members still go once every year to offer pooja and their respects to their fore-fathers.
This group, later, made their distinct identity not only by building historical forts, palaces, temples and architects in Kutch but also all over British India primarily in the fields of railways and coal mining.
The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas left Dhaneti and went on to establish eighteen villages in Kutch which were granted to them by the King: Anjar, Sinugra, Khambhra, Nagalpar, Khedoi, Madhapar, Hajapar, Kukma, Galpadar, Reha, Vidi, Jambudi, Devaliya, Lovaria, Nagor, Meghpar, Chandiya and Kumbharia.
Over the centuries, they have been known or identified by names like Mistri, Mistry, Mistris of Kutch, Kutchi Contractor, Kadia, Kadia Kshatriyas, Gurjar Kshatriyas, Kumar Gnati, Kutch Gurjar Kshatiryas, Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj, KGK Samaj, Kgk community, etc.
Some of the Rajput clans belonging to their group have been the rulers of Kutch, beginning with Ajepal Chauhan of the Chauhan dynasty. This was followed by the Solanki, Kathis, Vaghelas, Chawdas and finally the Jadeja dynasty came to rule Kutch until the independence of India.
They are a Hindu community. Some are followers of Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism. They are vegetarian in diet and avoid consumption of alcohol. The staple food is khichdi, vegetables, pulses and butter-milk.
The community are an endogamous community who practice the principle of clan exogamy. Dowry is generally not asked for, neither practice of bride price is there in community. Divorce is generally not encouraged, however, divorce can be claimed in certain cases.
Widow remarriage (ghargenu) is allowed, where the women is usually married outside husband's family.
The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas were master craftsmen, architects and contractors and have played a major role in erection and construction of the majority of forts, palaces and architecture of Kutch. It was because of this quality that around the mid 16th century they came to be known as Mistri in Kutch.
The word Mistri (or Mistry) means "skilled artisan" in Gujarati. The Portuguese were present in Gujarat from around 1500 AD and the Battle of Diu was fought in 1509 where the Portuguese later built Diu Fort. They also acknowledged the expertise of Kadia Kshatriyas in building fortress and called them mestre. Even the Muslim rulers accepted the expertise of the Kadias and were always sought after for building forts and fortress. The community was also known to travel far and wide for building such forts, palaces, etc. Their original roots were in Rajasthan and these group of Rajput or Kshatriyas were the people who were patronized by kings for their ability of design fort building with members of the community holding the post of Gaidher or Raj Mistry.
Not only the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas were expert and specialized in stone cutting and construction of forts, palaces, temples and buildings but they were also skilled architects and artisans who could do articulate carvings of doors, windows, pillars, and statues of gods and goddesses and ceilings. They have been the main engineers of almost all historical monuments of the Princely State of Cutch. They have been involved in construction of forts of Tera, Kanthkot, Bhujia Fort and fortification of towns of Anjar, Mandvi, Lakhpat and Rapar.
The KGK community were major land holders and jagirdars (or garasdars) in Kutch from many centuries. They also farmed and maintained large land-holdings with vadis and khetars in and around the nineteen villages they settled. They were once a prosperous community and there was a proverb in Kutch "Mafa-vara Gada to Mistri-na-j hoy" meaning "Such decorated bullock-carts/camel-carts can only belong to Mistri community".
The temple of Ashapura Mata at Mata no Madh, the Kuldevi of Jadeja rulers of Kingdom of Kutch has been built by Mistri community. Similarly, the Temple at Dhrang over the Samadhi of Mekan Dada and Akhara were also erected by craftsman of the Mistri community. The renovation and reconstruction of Bhadreshwar Jain Temples, Koteshwar Mahadev Temple, and Narayan Sarovar Temples, Mata-no-Madh; after devastating earthquakes of 1819, 1844–45 and 1875 all have been done by Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas. The Chhatri of Rao Lakhpatji in Bhuj built in eighteenth century in 1761 AD and Chhatris of other royal family members have been built by this community.
Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas community 'Gaidher' Jagmal Pitamber of Anjar was Gaidher of the Kutch Raaj in the middle of 17th century, when the forts of Bhuj, Anjar, Mandvi, Lakhpat and Mundra were erected and constructed under supervision of "Gaidher" Jagmal Pitamber with help of other Mistris of the nineteen villages. The community also built other historic forts such as Lakhpat and Sindri Fort. The Lakhpat Gurudwara built by them in the 17th century resembles the houses in their villages. The beautiful carvings of elephants, idols, pillars and wooden ceilings in the Gurudwara housing are similar to those found in the Thakor Mandir of their villages in Sinugra, Chandiya, Madhapar and architecture of Gurudwara, similar to their houses in their villages.
The Aina Mahal of Bhuj was built around 1750 during the reign of Jadeja King, Rao Lakhpatji (1741–1761). The main architect of the palace was Ramsinh Malam who had spent seventeen years in Holland and Belgium learning the techniques of making clocks, enameling, tiles, architecture and glass works. Rao Lakhpatji appointed him as main architect for Aaina Mahal. The Kadias of Kutch worked with him in on Aaina Mahal quickly grasped the art of making tiles, tiling, enameling and stained glass works and later used these techniques in building other palaces and majestic houses of their own.
Third in line of succession to Jagmal Pitamber was his son Ruda Gajdhar Jagmal and later his son Jairam Ruda Gajadhar Rathod, who became Gaidher in the reign of Maharao Shree Pragmalji II of Kutch who built Prag Mahal in Bhuj in 1865 to 1878 AD (V.S. 1922 to 1935). The main designer of Prag Mahal was the British architect Colon Wilikins, who designed it in the Italian Gothic style and the Kadias of Kutch worked with him in its construction. Started by Rao Pragmalji, who died in 1875, the construction was completed by his son Maharao Shree Khengarji Bawa in 1878. His Assistant Engineer was "Giadher" Devshi Gova of Khedoi. Maharo Shree Pragmalji and later Maharao Shree Khengarji Bawa held special affection for Gaidher Jairam Ruda and the Mistris of the nineteen villages were hired on the recommendation of Gaidher. the Alfred High School, the Fergusson Museum, library, embankment of Hamirsar Lake, Aara Ghat in Bhuj, were all constructed during the reign of Maharao Shree Pragmalji when Gaidher Jairam Ruda of Anjar was the Gaidher for the State. Also the Mistris were involved in construction of Sharad Baag Palace of Bhuj built in 1867 commissioned during the reign of Rao Dashalji II in 1859–60 and completed during the reign (1860–1875) of Rao Pragmalji II.
Mistri Kanji Gova Rathod of Khedoi was Gaidher in the court of Gagubha, the Darbar of Kothara, from 1855 to 1895 and the Jain Dersar (now known as one of Abdasa-ni-Panchtirthi), the Derasar of Kothara and other Palaces of Kothara Darbar were built under the supervision of Mistri Kanji Gova of Khedoi with help of other Mistris of the nineteen villages in 1858. The other Jain temples of Naliya, Tera, Jakhau and Suthari also have been built by artisans of Mistri community of Kutch, along with their counterparts from Saurashtra.
The Brother of Kanji Gova, Mistri Ruda Gova Rathod of Khedoi was also the Gaidher, who constructed in Nagalpar, the beautifully carved Dargah of Hussain Pir Shah also known as the Aga Khani Kubo of the Khoja community, which was inaugurated by Hasan Ali Shah, the Aga Khan I him-self. Ruda Gova Rathod of Khedoi started construction in 1860 and completed it in about five years.
The Mistris of Kutch were also involved in construction and erection of Vijay Vilas Palace built on sea-beach of Mandvi by Khengarji III of Kutch, as summer palace for his son and yuvraj Vijayaraji. The carved stone works of Jalis, Jharokas, Chhatris, Chhajas, murals and many other artistic stone carvings, colored glass work on windows and door panels all have been done by them, an art in which they were expert. The architect and craftsman from other places like Jaipur, Rajasthan, Bengal and Saurashtra, were also involved. The construction started in 1920 completed in 1929.
The Sanatan Thakor Mandir, the Juna Vaas and many new infrastructures at Madhapar were built by Mistris of the village. Renovation work and expansion of the Suralbhit – Jadeshwar Mahadev Temple near Bhuj was done by Mistris Manji Jeram Rathod and Valji Bhimji Rathod of Madhapar Village in 1914 (V.S. 1971) financed by Maharao Sri Khengarji Bawa of Kutch. In year 1943 (V.S. 2000) Manji Jairam Rathod of Madhapar again did the renovation of Suralbhit – Jadeshwar Temple. The Step-wells popularly known as Sellor Vaav near Dhorava and the adjacent Hanuman Temple were built by father-son Mistri Jeram Madhavji & Manji Jeram Rathod of Madhapar in 1927 from his personal finance. Mistri Valji Bhimji Rathod of Madhapar was among the few persons who, apart from Royal family, owned a car by special permission of the King of Kutch.
Besides being in construction works Mistris were also entrepreneurs and many of them owned fleets of ships used to import and export dry fruits and spices as well as trading in Muscat, Mombasa, Mzizima, Zanzibar and other countries. Notable among them were Seth Raja Narayan Chawda of Kumbharia, Seth Khora Ramji Chawda of Sinugra, Kachrani Varu of Anjar and Jairam Teja Chawda of Sinugra in 1880–1900.
Mistris were a major revenue earner for the Princely State of Cutch. Besides being major land holders jagirdars of Anjar, Bhuj and Mandvi Taluka of Kutch the majority of them worked as railway contractors and public works contractors in British India. They were paid in Indian Rupees which they bought to Kutch and converted into Kutchi currency (Koris). British Indian Rupees were paper currency and Kori were Silver Coins and on conversion the Koris had to be loaded into many bullock-carts and brought to the villages of the Mistris. The bullock carts were guarded by rifle and sword bearing guards from Bhuj to their houses. Many Mistris also kept Miyana as their guards. Many Miyana families were patronized by Mistirs and they were employed to work as guards for the whole village and also to work and look after their farmhouses and farms. KGK Community paid their tax on their huge income earned from Railway and other Contracts job to the Princely State of Cutch, instead of to British India and were therefore respected by the Jadeja kings of Kutch. Many families of the Mistri community held friendly relationships with the Kings of Kutch.
Many of them also worked as private bankers, notable among whom were Seth Khora Ramji Chawra of Sinugra, Jetha Lira Jethwa of Sinugra, Seth Raja Narayan Chawda of Kumbharia, Jairam Teja Chawra of Sinugra, Patel Mandan Ramji Vegad of Anjar etc. Some of them were so rich that their children studied at the prestigious Rajkumar College, Rajkot and the Rajkumar College, Raipur between 1920 and 1950.
Migration out of Kutch
The major migration of KGK from Kutch began when the British started laying railway lines in India. The KGK community which had been skilled in construction works decided to move out of Kutch and try to adapt their skills to railway lines and allied constructions for which the British needed a skilled workforce. The community were expert in stone-cutting, lime-paste making and brick manufacturing as well as in the construction of buildings and forts for centuries and decided to cash in on these new opportunities as there was a dearth of new jobs and opportunities in Kutch. Kutch was also going through a famine in those years. The KGK made a major contribution to the history of Indian railways, laying railway lines throughout British India.
Many families also migrated to other British Colonies, such as Aden, East Africa, Zanzibar, South Africa, Fiji, Burma, Ceylon and the Maldives during the middle of 19th century. They were encouraged by the British as these countries lacked skilled persons. They have worked in building the Aden railway, the Ceylon Government Railway, for the Burma Railway Company, Sittang Valley State Railway, Mu Valley State Railway, Thaton-Duyinzaik Railway, Irrawaddy Valley State Railway, East African Railways Corporation, Uganda Railway and the South African Railways. Today their descendants are found in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, etc. Although at present many have moved out of East Africa and settled in the United Kingdom, the USA or have returned to India after the political uncertainty during 1960–80. This was especially true during the Zanzibar Revolution in the mid-1960s and during the rule of Idi Amin in Uganda.
It was during 1850 to 1930 AD that the KGK migrated outside Kutch and were involved in the construction of major rail-bridges and the laying down of railway tracks in almost all major rail routes of undivided British India doing the "Railway Thekedari" (Railway Contractors also Thikadari) and as Thekedar (or Thikadar) in Irrigation projects and Forest Department and Public Works Department. They have also done major roadway, road bridges, canal works, irrigation dams and barrage work throughout British India from 1850 to 1980. The communities largest contribution is in the building of the early railway lines and bridges throughout British India. Their works in Railway construction span from 1850 to 1980 for more than one and a quarter of century.
Starting as small time masons in Railway Construction in decade of 1850 and later working as Sub-contractors or Agent to British Engineers, they rose to a level of First Class Railway Contractors by 1880. By 1900 they had established their Monopoly in various divisions of Railways throughout North, South, East and West of British India and by 1920 they became masters in this field that many of them were given title of Rai Bahadur by British exclusively for their engineering feats in erection of Railway Bridges and laying lines in most difficult terrain. Their feats are amazing also because almost all of the early pioneering Mistri Contractors could only write in Gujarati and had hardly studied up to third standard in vernacular schools of their dusty villages, still they managed to build bridges and lay railway lines, which required scientific measurement and calculation and could manage to work and speak with British Railway Officers and Engineers.
They preferred to work as a syndicate, where the railway contracts would be taken by them and sub-let to fellow Mistri contractors belonging to their 19 villages. Thus they held sway in many divisions of Railways in British India. There was dearth of skilled persons in India who were ready to work in difficult terrains of mountains and jungles due to the risk of being killed by diseases like malaria, cholera, plague and by wild animals or gangs of robbers and outlaws. The early British records of many railway companies have noted that many British engineers and labour resigned, left or even perished due to killer diseases like malaria, cholera and from the effects of the heat and sun while laying the railway lines. Working as a railway contractor in these early days meant staying away from home for many months, or even years. In these difficult circumstances the KGK were the pioneers, laying lines as far as Assam, Chittagong, Peshawar and Madras, thousands of miles away from their homes in Kutch. Before the arrival of the railways the main means of transport were horse-cart, bullock-cart or moving on foot. They used to travel with their families and children and there are many records of their children being born in remote jungles.
The laying of the railways needed a lot of physical labor and stamina for jobs like leveling the earth, the cutting back of the jungle, blasting of mountain passes and cuttings, laying ballast along tracks and walking several of miles daily. Mechanical knowledge for track interlockings, switching, and advanced engineering calculations for building bridges and their arches and abutments, laying foundations in river beds, deep well-sinking, laying spans and many such technical jobs. Similarly they built the platforms, the station buildings, the station master's room, ticket counters, rest rooms and other facilities such as over-head water tanks, the digging of ponds nearby for an uninterrupted supply of water, building the signal cabin, rail yard and staff quarters.
The railways needed an uninterrupted supply of bricks, boulders and lime-paste for building of the infrastructure in those early days between 1850 and 1900. The KGK also known as Chunaras (lime workers) for many decades, cashed in on this opportunity and many of them started brickworks and lime-kilns in remote, forested and inaccessible areas of British India to supply the materials. The railways needed bricks of specific sizes and dimensions which were a little bigger and stronger than the ordinary bricks used in house construction. It should be noted here that in those days lime-paste was used for construction. The community were also expert in the art of stone cutting that they had inherited from their fore-fathers, who were masters at building forts. These cut-rocks have been used in most old bridges and platform buildings and can still be seen surviving today.
In history of India, Mistris of Kutch are probably the only community, whose migration out of their home land Kutch, was attributed to construction of Railways in British era. This is a unique fact about association of Railways and Mistris of Kutch
Docks, dams and canals in British India
The KGK contributed to the building of docks, dams, barrages and irrigation canals between 1850 and 1980, and they in the eighteenth century had been among the communities who built the first ports of Bombay and Hornby Vellard. Other docks were developed in Bombay during 1870–1895 (Prince's Docks built in 1885 and Victoria Docks built in 1891) in which many Mistris of Kutch and Kadia Kshatriyas of Saurahstra worked.
In 1883 the Mandvi Port Docks and a bridge over the Rukmavati River at Mandvi were built by Vishram Karman Chawda of Chandiya. It is the longest stone bridge of its kind in India. In 1924 the extension of Calcutta Port Trust at Khiddirpore in Calcutta was made by building a new dock named the "King George Dockyard" and was done by Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan with Bhimjee Pancha Chauhan and Mavji Punja Chauhan, all from Nagor. This work was completed in 1927and the dock has now been renamed as "Netaji Subhas Docks".
Jairam Karsan Chauhan of Nagor, stationed at Sambalpur, was one of the major contractors who worked in construction of the Hirakud Dam, construction of which started in 1948 and was completed in 1957.
In 1956, when construction of Tawa Dam began on Tawa River near Hoshangabad, one of the major Contractor for the work was Mavji Ruda Chawra of Madhapar, who was son of Late Rai Sahib Ruda Laddha Chawra. The Dam was completed in 1974.
In the regions of British India known as Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas pioneered Indian involvement in coal mining from 1894. They broke the previous monopolies held by British and other Europeans, establishing many collieries at locations such as Khas Jharia, Jamadoba, Balihari, Tisra, Katrasgarh, Kailudih, Kusunda, Govindpur, Sijua, Sijhua, Loyabad, Dhansar, Bhuli, Bermo, Mugma, Chasnala-Bokaro, Bugatdih, Putki, Chirkunda, Bhowrah, Sinidih, Kendwadih, and Dumka.
Other Indian communities followed the example of the KGK in the Dhanbad-Jharia-Bokaro fields after the 1930s. These included the Punjabis, Kutchis, Marwaris, Gujaratis, Bengalis and Hindustanis. Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa -1920 mentions:- "Out of 92 collieries belonging to Gujaratis in Jharia Coalfields Area during 1920s - 50 belonged to Mistris of Kutch with Seth Khora Ramji as Head of them all." Seth Khora Ramji of Sinugra was also honored by King of Kutch by giving him a Paghdi.
Arjan Ladhha Rathod and Varjang Harji Rathod of Kumbharia founded the Manganese Ore mines at Chaibasa in 1910 and Arjan Ladhha Mines sometimes misspell as Arjun Lodha Mines at Balagoda. Lalji Jhina of Anjar also owned Manganese ore mines in Chaibasa. Rai Sahib Mulji Jagmal Savaria of Kumbharia and Rai Bahadur Jairam Valji Chauhan of Kumbharia owned Manganese, Dolomite and Limestone Mines in at Jairamnagar, Akaltara, Tirodi, Katni in Central Provinces. Jeevram Jairam Chawda of Sinugra owned Minerals mines in Saraikela. The community members also owned Slate and Granite mines in Markapur and Minerals Mines in Keonjhar. Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan of Nagor owned Silica mines in Shankargarh. Hirji Premji Parmar of Kukma and Deoji Jairam Solanki of Madhapar owned soap-stone and kaoline mines at Asansol and Hazaribagh. At present in Kutch, many members of Mistri community own China Clay and Bentonite mines.
Contribution in architects and development of cities of India
Apart from laying first Railway lines and building docks of Bombay, the Mistris of Kutch and Kadias of Saurashtra were also involved in construction of Victoria Terminus for Great Indian Peninsula Railway, Bombay Central and Colaba Terminus both for Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, Bombay High Court, Taj Hotel, J. J. School of Art, Town Hall, Wilson College, Apollo Bundar to name a few in city of Bombay. Cutch Castle of Bombay, the royal palace belonging to Rulers of Kutch was erected by Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan of Nagor of KGK Community for Maharao Shri Khengarji Bawa, who shared a personal friendship with Jagmal Raja.
In Raipur, the Ramdev Market was built by Madhavji Kunvarjee Vadher of Sinugra in 1930s. Also the Ramji Building housing many Hotels and Restaurants at Jai Stambh Chowk in Raipur was built by Ramji Karaman Rathod of Khambhra in 1940s and the Raja Bhawan at Fafadih Chowk, built like a royal palace was built by Lira Raja Rathod of Khambhra in 1935.
In Calcutta apart from building Docks of Calcutta Port and Railway lines and building complex of Howrah Station for East Indian Railway and Sealdah for Eastern Bengal Railway, the community were involved in construction of Howrah Bridge. Many Victorian buildings in Kolkata have been built by the karigars (artisans) of the Mistri community of Kutch. They were also involved in construction of Victoria Memorial
Lira Raja Rathod of Khambhra erected many buildings in Calcutta in decades of 1925 to 1945 namely Raja Bhawan at Central Avenue, Raja Court and Raja Terrace at Mission Row, Raja Mansion and Raja Chambers near Strand Road and Godavari Bhawan at Bhawanipur and gained a name as a Real Estate owner in city. Many of these buildings are now land-marks of the city.
In Dhanbad the present day Rathod Market and Chawda Market both standing adjacent to each other in heart of the city were built in decade of 1930-40 by Kanji Premji Rathod of Khambhra and Ghela Devraj Chawda of Devaliya, respectively.
In Orissa, the Shail Sadan Palace in Bolangir belonging to royal family of Patna Raj was constructed in 1886 by Karsan Bhima Rathor of Madhapar, while he was stationed at Cuttack doing Railway Contracts.
At Rameshwaram, while working on Pamban Bridge the Mistris Lakhu Devji Vegad of Anjar and Gangji Narayan of Khedoi also built Temple of Neel-Mandir having seven domes, construction which, they started in 1899 and completed in about five years by 1905.
In 1923 by request of Commissioner, Kadia Bhanji Dhanji Rathod of Devaliya had done repair and rehabilitation of Dwarakadheesh temple with Ranchhod Ramji Chauhan of Nagalpar, as per tablet in Temple's records.
In 1932 upon completion of Bally Bridge, Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan of Nagor was recommended by the erstwhile Viceroy of India, The Earl of Willingdon to Rana of Nepal, Shree Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, who needed Contractor of repute to do renovation and rehabilitation of his Palaces and temples. He was given the Contract for the same and Parbat Harji Chauhan, Karaman Devji Chauhan both of Kukma and Manji Shivjee of Madhapar were delegated by Jagmal Raja to go to Kathmandu, Nepal with a team of artisans and masons to supervise and complete the work. It took about two and half years for the job to be completed.
Religious and charitable contributions outside Kutch
Members of the KGK community have funded the construction of and also built many temples, Dharamshalas and schools. These buildings include the Kutchi Ashram at Haridwar in 1954–56, the Kutchi Kadia Dharamsala in Mathura, the Gujarati Jalaram Dharamshala in Amarkantak, and the Ram Temples at Kharagpur and at Bilaspur. In 1920 a charitable trust for promoting education called Jharia Vidhhyotejak Fund was started by Mistri Colliery owners at Jharia. This Fund started the Jharia Gujarati Primary School in 1920 and also gave scholarship to the children of their society. At Cuttack, a school named Gujarati Pathshala started in 1928, which was renamed as Anglo Gujarati School in 1941 was started by Rai Saheb Kunwarji Karsan Rathod of Madhapar. A public library was also started by him in 1931. Jairam Daya Chauhan of Kumbharia, who built Muktidham Temple at Nashik Road also donated a large sum to start a College in Nasik named J. D. Bytco Commerce And N. S. Chandak Science College and D D Bytco Boys High School and Jr College both at Nasik. Rai Sahib Mulji Jagmal and Ranchhod Jagmal Savaria built a hospital in Ratanpur. Nanji Govindji Tank of Hajapar built the existing Hindu Cemetorium and also a Ram Temple both at Jamshedpur and was one of the founder-trustee of the "Gujrati Sanatan Samaj" Community Center at Bistupur. Kanji Daya Chawda of Sinugra, built a Dharamsala in Keonjhar now named Kanji Daya Dharamsala for public and charitable use in 1934.
Downturn in fortunes
The fortunes of the KGK community were damaged in the post-independence years by two tranches of legislation:
The KGK community continues to struggle as their land holdings and coal mines have gone. Further, the skills of their fore-fathers in building and erecting railway lines and bridges is also gone as young generations are neither interested nor are there opportunities as railway contracts are now given to big engineering conglomerates. At present they are mainly involved in small time business and services.
The majority of the once-prosperous KGK community living in Kutch and Saurashtra today are devoid of agricultural land and have been included in the list of Other Backward Classes for Gujarat. Those who migrated from the state cannot take advantage of this reservation.
Distribution in India
KGK community members are found throughout India, notably near to the major rail routes and junctions associated with the work of their forebears. Communities exist in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal.
Social organization and activities in present times
KGK associations exist today in various Indian states, and there are meetings and events organised at local, state and national level. These include match-making events, called Sagpan-Sanmmelan, and the traditional dispute resolution by elected community elders continues with the Panch. There is an annual gathering in Kutch, their native state.
They also have a woman's wing called Mahila Mandal at state and national level. Every three years a woman president is also elected by ladies of the community. The woman's wing works independently and in co-operation with the president of the community. The national level women's body of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas is called Akhil Bharatiya Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya samaj Mahila Mandal. The woman president of this wing then appoints her working committee members. The Mahila Mandal was founded in 1976 and first Mahila Mandal Pramukh or President of Women's Wing of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas was elected. In 1996 the community elected a woman to be Mahasabha Pramukh, or President of the community.
Similarly, they also have a youth wing at state and national organizational levels called All India Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj Yuva Mahamandal. The young generation helps in organizing major national and state level events and the youths also organize a sports event every three years called Kutchyadd, taking cue and inspiration from the Asiad of 1982 Asian Games. The event also coincides with Dance, Music and match-making event.
Every year a mass-marriage event is also held called Samuh-Lagna where the marriages of financially weak families or couples are held with blessings and financial co-operation of the whole community. The first such event by the community was held on 10 May 1966, with six marriages at Dhanbad and later on a larger scale in 1972 at Raipur. It continues to be held every year since then at different locations in India.
Religious customs and beliefs in present days
Community members are still carrying forward the religious customs and beliefs embedded in them since many centuries ago and continue to follow Hindu religious customs. They are still followers of different sects of Hinduism.
The newly wed couple has to come at least once, even though they may be living outside India, to bow to their Kuldevi at the temples which are located in the eighteen villages in Kutch originally founded by their ancestors. The newly weds also go and offer their respects at the Parias of their Satis and Shurapuras located in Kutch.
Present day identity
Other than being referred to as the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya, the terms "KGK Community" or "Kgk Samaj" are more often used acronyms for the community in present day India at a national level. "Mistri", which was mostly used during the last century and before is nowadays only used in Kutch and Gujarat. However, the OBC Certificate as per the Bakshi Panch report are given in the name of the Mistri only.
KGK Community in other fields
The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya community have not practiced the system of compulsory or forced dowry for many years. In addition, widows were in general allowed to remarry by community elders, i.e. the "Moti Naat" and the "Community Panch", on a case to case basis for more than two centuries – much before the Widow Remarriage Act was brought into British India in 1856. The word used for such widow remarriage was "Ghar-gharana". Even the young widows having infants were also allowed to re-marry in case the second husband guaranteed to take care of child born from first marriage. There was a word called "agandiyaat" used for the young boy which came to his stepfather's house holding the finger of its mother. The word "angadi" in Gujarati language means finger and "angadiyaat" means the one who has come holding the finger. Sometimes, when the family of first husband, wished that son born from her first marriage should carry the name and title or surname of his deceased father, such arrangements were also given.
The KGK also understood the importance of education and, during early 1900s, had started schools and boarding houses in many villages and cities of Kutch (Sinugra, Madhapar, Bhuj, Anjar, etc.) and other cities (Jharia, Raipur, Cuttack, Valsad, Kharagpur, etc.) of India. They donated large sums to Vikas Vidhyalaya of Wadhwan, Gurukul Kangri Vidhyalaya of Haridwar, Banaras Hindu University and Rajghat Besant School of Varanasi, Gurukul Supa at Navsari, Shantiniketan Gurukul, Dakshinamurti Vidhya Mandir at Bhavnagar and Navajivan Trust of Ahmedabad, Sastu Sahitya Vardhak Karyalaya of Ahmedabad and Gita Press of Gorakhpur etc. They also understood the importance of Girls education and had started girls schools in some of their villages like Madhapar, Kookma etc. and helped Arya Kanya Gurukul at Porbandar and pioneered sending their girls to schools in the early years of schooling in India (1890–1900). Besides building boarding houses for students at Bhuj and Anjar so that their children can stay in the towns to study and opening co-educational primary schools in Sinugra, Madhapar, Chandiya, Kukma. At Kukma an exclusive girls hostel-cum-school named Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Kanya Chhatralaya was built by the community. They also built a boarding house in Poona for students willing to go for higher education in 1935. A hostel building was built by them named "Jharia House" at Rajghat Besant School in Benaras in 1935.
In Hindu rites and rituals there is a system of giving a funeral feast called, Parojan or Barmu-Termu, after the death of a family member. It is believed that the spirit of the dead does not get salvation until such a feast is given in his or her memory. In such feasts the whole community was to be invited. Due to such beliefs even economically weak members of community took loans to hold them. In 1931 the whole community (Naat or Moti-Naat) of eighteen villages assembled at Village Sinugra and a historic resolution called, Parojan Nishedh Tharav was passed in Sinugra stating that no member of community, henceforth, is bound to give this feast after the death of their family members. The elders of the community were against the resolution that religious beliefs should not be tempered with. Younger generations of leaders convinced them, arguing that elders could feed the poor and help the needy and do other charitable works or even give the feast in their lifetime, if they can afford to earn their salvation. Why should they wait for or expect that their next of kin would give funeral feast after their demise.??
In 1968, a Samuh-Lagna (mass community marriage) event was held on experimental basis by the Dhanbad Ghatak (unit) of the KGK community. Six couples were married in this first such mass-marriage event and the KGK were probably one of the first Indian communities to arrange such a thing in post-independence India. In 1972, another Samuh-Lagna for financially weak families of the community was held at Raipur. There are now Samuh-Lagna held annually at different locations in India.
Re-organization of KGK in post-independence India
Around 1942 onwards the historic "Naat" and "Patel" system came to an end due to some internal problems as well as national level turbulence including World War-II, the Indian Independence movement, the partition of India, merger of the princely states and formation of the Union of India. The community, most of which were involved in railway "Thekedari" and lay scattered across the various states of India could not re-organize themselves and for almost three decades the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas lost their unity and leadership. The Patel system and Moti-Naat started to collapse around 1945 and was ended by 1950.
In Raipur a community organization called Kshatriya Seva Sangh was established in 1935 and later a greater organization called Shree Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Ganti Samaj was established in 1948 and in 1954 the community center was built in Raipur.
Although the Moti-Naat went into a state of limbo around 1950 the Dhanbad and Raipur organizations were considered an extended part of Moti-Naat and were given the status of Gaam or village in addition to the 18 villages of Kutch. This status was given to them in view of the large population of KGK members living in both cities. Until 1960 both Dhanbad and Raipur units continued to pay their community taxes and subscription to the Moti-Naat in Kutch.
Later on a Yuvak Mahasabha, or Young Man's Association, of the community was formed in 1954 in Dhanbad. This Yuvak Mahasabha worked until 1968, with blessings from elders of the community, to bring a form a unity in Samaj but it could not replace Panch, Naat and the Patel system of historic times and the need for a greater organization was always needed. A community center was built by members of community during 1959–60 in Dhanbad at which later a Samuh-Lagna event was also organized by them in 1968, which can be said to be first such mass-marriage event before much publicized 1972 event held at Raipur.
Finally in 1971 the community re-organized themselves and first some leaders with good wishes of elders of community, met at Jaipur and a resolution was passed to contact all families of the community spread throughout India and unite to elect a new leader by the next year.
Accordingly in 1972 the community again got together at Raipur and at a huge gathering at their Samaj Bhawan on 3 June 1972, they unanimously elected their first President – Mahasabha Pramukh of post-independence India. The pre-independence Moti Naat was re-christened as Mahasabha and Patel was rechristened as Pramukh and the Panch system was re-established. The new constitution of the community, charitable trusts and state and national level units were formed. A detailed a census with a list of community members was carried out. The community name Shree Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Mahasabha was registered under The Societies Registration Act with its registered office at Calcutta in 1972.
In the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, which had its epicenter in Kutch, the following villages of Mistris were largely affected and destroyed – Anjar, Sinugra, Khambhra, Devaliya, Chandiya, Nagalpar, Lovaria, etc. Many heritage houses and havelis belonging to rich Mistri families, built almost 100 years ago, with ornate facades, intricate door carvings and metal grill windows and verandas depicting the life of Queen Victoria were all razed to the ground. There were also huge wall and ceiling paintings depicting scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana which are no more. The majestic interiors, doors and window panels of some of the houses were similar in design, which can still be seen in Prag Mahal.
Along with other communities of Kutch, the KGK suffered significant casualties as a result of the earthquake of 26 January 2001. In many cases whole families of the KGK community were buried alive. The houses built by their fore-fathers were also lost, all being razed to the ground.