Dhaka’s pieces of India

February 27, 2009

Excerpts from an article published on The Sunday Indian. This article deals with how different Indian communities such as Telegu, Kannada, Benarasi and Kashmiri settled in Dhaka are passing their days.

 

Whether they are in slums or chandeliered living rooms, Indian communities add to the cosmopolitan sheen of Bangladesh’s capital, says Saurabh kumar Shahi……

 

….With the Banarasis in Dhaka, I didn’t face any language barriers. They are fluent in Awadhi lashed Hindi. Most of them live in Mirpur Benarasi Palli. Impressed by their finesse, Nawab Salimullah settled 5,000 sari weavers in the late 19th century. Today, they number around 1,00,000. When you hear the sounds of the handlooms from afar, you know you are approaching the Benarasi neighbourhood.

banarasi-weaverIsrael Jolaha’s home is at the end of the road. Unlike Telugus and Shankaris, Israel isn’t much amused seeing an Indian scribe. However, few sentences in Awadhi broke into his scepticism. What followed was a stupendous Awadhi meal, and yes, paan. Drowned by readymade salwaar-kameez, Benarasis are finding it difficult to sell their fine pieces of art. But today, with an Awadhi speaking stranger around, Israel doesn’t want to discuss “depressing” things. He poses several questions, most of which I answered, much to his satisfaction. “My son Ishmael doesn’t want to learn this traditional skill. He works at a readymade garment factory at Adamjee EPZ. But I am happy, at least he took weaving as his career,” says Israel with a nervous smile. There were other non-Bengali communities in the locality too. Kanpuris and Jabbalpuris were prominent among them. Israel brings a few of them to me. They looked much the same, but speak a slightly different tongue. There are less than 10,000 of them, living in Tikatuli locality. Most of them are businessmen and have small shops.

Khwaja Atique Alam’s living room is old world grandeur… chandeliers, Itradans and mirrors of all types and makes, a truly Nawabi ambience. Atique’s ancestors migrated from Kashmir during the reign of lesser-Moguls. While many settled in the Kashmiri Tola, Atique’s great-grandfather Khwaja Allimullah settled at the celebrated Ahsan Manzil. One of his great-grandfathers, Nawab Salimullah was co-founder of Muslim League in pre-Independence India. Please click the link below for the article in its entierity-

 

http://www.thesundayindian.com/08022009/storyd.asp?sid=6554&pageno=1

One Response to “Dhaka’s pieces of India”

  1. Iftekhar Hassan Says:

    I think investigative journalist Saurabh kumar Shahi may not be acurate when he said in his article that:-

    “Nawab Salimullah settled 5,000 sari weavers in the late 19th century”

    There exist no such evidence !

    According to an original manuscript/book originally written within the 18th century under the name of “company weavers of bengal” (various bangladeshis and indian did follow this book up until last years) and written various research report over it, about their own finding and version(s) regrading history of the weavers of Bengal.

    My father own three Saree shops in Dhaka starting from 1964. Myself and my late brother Javed Hassan use to run these shops. I think I do have enough background to dispute some of the article, which is not true from historical point of views.

    The best muslin saree weavers are BOSHAK from Tangail region. Once BOSHAK’s were the resident of present NAWABPUR, where muslin weaving factories existed under the management of the Armenians via French during 16th and 17th century. Armenians and French used to sell these Muslins (mostly) to the Pasha’s of Turkey (Ottoman’s) for turbans.

    Banarasi weavers of Mirpur, Dhaka came recently to Bangladesh/East Pakistan (after partition of India – Pakistan). Actually they are not from Beneras, they were trained by some Benarasi masters or learn the trade from them.

    Most of the Benarasi weavers of present Dhaka in Mirpur are folks from Bihar region of Bhagalpur district( DARBHUNGA, CHAPRA and MUNGER ) They came to than East Pakistan from India as refugees and settled in Syedpur in North Bengal as rail line technicians and the balance in Mirpur, Dhaka as Banarasi, Pallu weavers.


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