Interview with Dadi Krishna Bhambani
by Ram Jawhrani
Sindhi Sarmayo by Ram Jawhrani highlights the selfless efforts put in to promote SINDHI language, literature, culture and heritage, along with information about their personal achievements.
Historically amongst Hindus are Almighty is depicted in the form of ‘Ardh-Narishwar’, part man and part woman is equal proportion. But in the land of Sindh, right from eight centuries, under Islamic rule, woman was confined within the four corners of the house. It was because of this that girls in Sindh got access to education only as late as the 20th century. Even in theatre and erstwhile dramas the female character was always enacted by males. In such difficult and suffocating times only a few handful Sindhi women challenged these autocratic and social norms and come out of the four walls of their homes to move shoulder to shoulder with their brothers.
Today we interview one such personality, sister Krishna Bhambhani who not only actively participated in freedom struggle, supporting Dada Dukhayal at every step but is quite active even today in Adipur Kutchh and leads many institutions and organizations, on behalf of Maitri Mandal.
R. Jawhrani: Dadi, please share with us some details about your early days in Sindh.
K. Bhambani: It’s been a long time since, but I distinctly remember during the moment of 1930, we children used to carry Khadi cloth on our shoulders recite poems and sing song in praise of Khadi. We also participated in pickets and burnt imported cloth.
R. Jawhrani: While participating in the freedom struggle did it ever occur to you that this freedom would be a calamity for us and we would have to quit our motherland?
K. Bhambani: At that time there was no question for Partition. At that time only Patriotism was the issue before us and to obtain freedom for our nation from the clutches of the British. We were young at that time and we would from ‘Bandar Senas’. In our town, Dukhayal, Arjan, Wadhu Keswani, Bhagwan Sher etc. also actively participated in the movement and even Gandhiji came twice to our town.
R. Jawhrani: After migrating India from Sindh, did you come straight to Gandhidham?
K. Bhambani: No. I first came to Kanpur. P.P. Chandwani, a senior officer with the railways, had established ‘Trust for Sindhi Women and Children’ in Kanpur, and he advised me to come directly to Kanpur as there was a home and occupation ready for me. He told me to start Naari Shaala and schools in Kanpur as I was also associated with schools in Sindh. I was the principal of a high school in Sindh for 8 years.
R. Jawhrani: How did you then come to Gandhidham?
K. Bhambani: Bhai Pratap of Gandhidham knew me from Sindh as I had participated in the freedom movement. So when he came to know that I had come to India and I was in Kanpur. He immediately requested Chandwani to send me to Gandhidham as he had lots of expectations from me. I have always loved adventure and treated life as a challenge. So I thought when I was getting this opportunity why not utilize my abilities and see what I could do it in the new place.
R. Jawhrani: Why did you choose a place like Gandhidham for establishing a ‘New Sindh’?
K. Bhambani: I didn’t know about Gandhidham when I was in Sindh and only came to know about it when Bhai Pratap called for me. He had written to me that efforts were being made to establish a town in a jungle. Our Sindhi language is somewhat similar to the Kachhi Language that is spoken here. And main thing is that the river Sindhu flows through here. So this was like our Old Sindh and we are trying to build a New Sindh over there.
R. Jawhrani: This means that we were emotionally attached to Gandhidham and Adipur because of the Sindhu River and a Kachhi language, which is regarded as a younger sister of Sindhi. Dadi, we would like to know how you came in contact of Dada Dukhayal and from when you started working with him?
K. Bhambani: When I was 7 years old, he would come to our school and teach us patriotic songs. This created a great impact in my mind. His singing would pierce the heart. Although I was young, I had made up my mind that I would do exactly what he said?
R. Jawhrani: What were the conditions in Gandhidham during those days?
K. Bhambani: Oh, don’t ask me about that. When I first stepped into Gandhidham, there were no railways, roadways – nothing at all. Only a small launch that plied between Navlakhi and Old Kandla Port. I went there because Bhai Pratap had called for me, but on reaching there I was totally disappointed and was wondering how I would be able to stay in such a place. There was nothing at all – only desert. They sent a big GMC vehicle to pick me up. I saw that there were no roads only big holes and the area was completely deserted with not even a single tree in sight. But when I heard the soulful song of Dada Dukhayal mentioning the establishment of Gandhidham, I felt a new strength and vigour within and decided to settle there.
R. Jawhrani: do you feel that after quitting Sindh the misfortune that struck our culture, language and heritage, has been made good in Gandhidham?
K. Bhambani: To some extent. Tremendous efforts towards this have been made, right since the beginning. But this is a great task where everyone’s co-operation and sacrifice is needed. Only a few have come forward.
R. Jawhrani: What efforts were made to preserve and promotes our language, literature and culture?
K. Bhambani: At that time, to be very honest we didn’t think much about our language and literature. Our main aim then was survival. As I mentioned earlier the place was a desert. So first of all we began the task of building houses and settlements. Bhai Pratap was totally immersed in this task day and night. There wasn’t a more fearless, hardworking and greater son of the soil than him. He told us that we all are no longer refugees but hard working setter over here. His feelings were composed into lyrics by Dada Dukhayal in songs and poems.
R. Jawhrani: it’s nice to know that Dada Dukhayal conveyed the message of new Sindh through his songs. Today after 55-60 years, to what extent has Gandhidham been able to achieve that goal?
K. Bhambani: You will see in all the lanes, by-lanes and in every house Sindh is spoken in Gandhidham. Chonkis of Sindhi Songs and Kalaams are regularly organized.
R. Jawhrani: Are there Sindhi schools in Gandhidham?
K. Bhambani: There are no Sindhi medium schools. In the primary section, from the 1st standard to 4th standard we have Sindhi medium schools and from the 5th standard we have Hindi medium. In Kandla port there are many offices of the Central Government and therefore many non-Sindhis also reside there. Even they have found Sindhi easy to learn, so they also have admitted there children in our schools.
R. Jawhrani: What is the Sindhi population in Adipur?
K. Bhambani: Percentage wise, I feel approximately 60% are Sindhis in Adipur.
R. Jawhrani: So what would be the total population of Sindhis – approximately 6-8 lakhs?
K. Bhambani: No, not so much, but approximately 3 lakhs or so.
R. Jawhrani: Don’t you think talking into account a population of 3 lakhs the schools there are more than what is required?
K. Bhambani: Yes.
R. Jawhrani: Has your main objective always been education?
K. Bhambani: Yes, since the beginning my focus in education.
R. Jawhrani: How many schools have you established over there?
K. Bhambani: We have 6 primary schools and 4 secondary and Higher Secondary schools. Besides these we have a college and as per Dada’s will, one B.Ed. College for teacher training has also been established. We also have a Collegiate Board which runs with colleges. We have Arts, Science, Polytechnic and Management colleges.
R. Jawhrani: Besides education what other tasks have you undertaken, related to the cause of Sindhyat?
K. Bhambani: Lots of tasks! First of all when we had gone there we celebrated 12 February as the Gandhidham establishment day. We used to perform plays on Sindhyat and its importance in that day. Bhai Pratap not only established schools but also built an open air theatre, where twice or thrice a year programmes were organized. This programmes consisted of dramas, Kalaams, children’s songs etc. Theses children’s songs were made entertaining that not only the Sindhis but even the non-Sindhis could sing along with us
R. Jawhrani: Today at every Sindhi platform, the first catchphrase is Save Sindhiyat, speak in Sindhi. Do you feel that your generation or our generation has been successful in the true sense, of passing on Sindhyat to the next generation?
K. Bhambani: Everyone has tried their level best to pass it on. There is no doubt about it.
R. Jawhrani: What efforts have been made over there?
K. Bhambani: Like I mentioned earlier, through culture we tried to pass this on. We organized programmes. When the radio station Akashwani was started we used to go and conduct Sindhi programmes. We faced lots of difficulties initially but still we went there. We used to encourage children to platform and speak on various topics concerning Sindhiyat. Then we also published our books in the Devnagri script so that the Sindhis who had spread out in various parts like Delhi, M.P., and U.P. could read them.
R. Jawhrani: Dadi, some Sindhis even went to south and they don’t know to read even the Devnagri script. What about them?
K. Bhambani: We shall come to hem later. When they read about Sindhis and Sindhiyat they will become aware, else the distance will become too large to bridge.
R. Jawhrani: I feel the Arabic Sindhi script has almost vanished from the whole of India. It is not longer being taught in schools and colleges.
K. Bhambani: See, we don’t have our own state, we didn’t reside together and Sindhi language didn’t come in the mainstream also. Therefore this had to happen. This apprehension was present all along.
R. Jawhrani: If these conditions continue then how will Sindhi Language survive?
K. Bhambani: Sindhi language is not going to die. It is our firm that neither Sindhyat nor Sindhi language will vanish. There is so much wealth in our culture and heritage which won’t allow it to die.
R. Jawhrani: But for its survival some concrete steps will have to be initiated.
K. Bhambani: There are so many steps being taken. All, including us, are doing our level best to preserve it. Sindhi books are being published; Sindhi dramas are being organized etc.
R. Jawhrani: You mean to say that through stage, drama and vocal culture Sindhyat can survive. I would like to know how many books Dada Dukhayal has written and his contribution to literature?
K. Bhambani: Dada wrote about 34-35 books approximately in Sindhi. He has contributed to all forms of literature but mostly his contribution has been in poetry. He was known as the patriotic poet or ‘Lok Kavi’.
R. Jawhrani: Have you also written some books?
K. Bhambani: I have written a few books and translated a few. But all my works, whether articles, stories etc. are all incomplete. Therefore sometimes I call myself incomplete because I haven’t been able to complete these works. As I am always occupied with some or the other work, writing takes a back seat.
R. Jawhrani: It is possible that there might be a complete story, in those incomplete works.
K. Bhambani: It can be, but I can’t say so. But I believe more in working on the tasks in hand. The field of work in quite vast in Gandhidham. First of all we had to create a film base. We had to inculcate in the children the feelings for Sindhiyat, had to educate them about the environment. We understood massive efforts to plant trees all around. For these entire tasks, lots of time is required. We have a big selfless group of person working there for our community and the cause of the Sindhyat without any desire for personal reward.
R. Jawhrani: Did Dada have any relation or association with Mahatma Gandhi or Vinoba Bhave?
K. Bhambani: He had very close relation with them. Mahatma Gandhi considered him as his own son. He undertook Padh Yatra with Vinoba Bhave for13 and half years throughout India.
R. Jawhrani: Whose philosophy influenced Dada Hundraj Dukhayal?
K. Bhambani : Basically he was influenced by his father. His father was a great saint – Bhai Leelaram Jessasingh. Dada has also set up a Trust in his father’s name. Then as he entered the Freedom Movement in 1921-22, he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. After independence Vinoba Bhave influenced hima lot, as he said he didn’t want any post in the congress or the government but wanted to work in small villages.
R. Jawhrani: Till now our litterateurs have kept reiterating that we shall go back to Sindh, we shall get our Sindh back. Did Dada also have this thought in mind or have you also thought that incase we manage to get our Sindh back; we will go back and settle there?
K. Bhambani: When I was in his company and he spoke to all the workers he often said that there should be a part of that undivided India. In today’s times, if you ask me, truly speaking no one will go back to Sindh. Although they may say so, but no one will go back to Sindh. So now why dream of going back.
R. Jawhrani: it is said that whatever Sindhi settle that place become Sindh.
K. Bhambani: Exactly! Now the boundaries of Sindh have become so huge that whatever even 4 Sindhis reside, it is like a small province of Sindh and even the non-Sindhis get influenced by us.
R. Jawhrani: Our youngster would like to know what the identification of Sindhis is. What is the meaning of Sindhyat?
K. Bhambani: The main identification is that we passed through such harrowing difficulties which mean we are courageous.
R. Jawhrani: We have adopted a lot of things from other cultures. We have taken something or the other from the states where we reside. Recently I got to read Dadi Popati Hiranandani’s book where I came to know that the custom of applying Sindoor by married woman is acquired from U.P., wearing Mangal Sutra is picked from Maharashtra etc.
K. Bhambani: So what’s the harm in it?
R. Jawhrani: But what is our own identification that we have given to other?
K. Bhambani: Our identification is the good qualities possessed by us. We are hard working such an extent that any task undertaken is definitely seen through.
R. Jawhrani: There has been change in our dress, diet and behaviour, infact in almost everything. How can we convey to our youngsters that our Isht Dev is Lord Jhulelal. Like for example nowadays Ganpati pooja is done is almost every house, which is a good thing. But are we not forgetting our own culture?
K. Bhambani: This is not correct. How can we forget our culture and we haven’t forgotten it. Even in a small function in Gandhidham a photo of Jhulelal is kept in the front. In every Sindhi house you go you will find the photo of Jhulelal in all the rooms. In all our programmes we raise slogans in praise of our Lord Jhulelal. Not only have us, even the non-Sindhi along with us sung the praises of Jhulelal. And they also participate with us in all our programmes.
R. Jawhrani: One last question, what change has come about between the Sindhi female of Sindh and the Sindhi female here in India? How much freedom id she enjoys in Sindh and how much has she achieved over here?
K. Bhambani: There is big change. In Sindh females hardly had any freedom except in place like Hyderabad and Karachi. In all other parts of Sindh we females were as tough in burqas. We didn’t have the permission to move out of the house and while moving out we would always cover our heads. After coming here it was like a blessing in disguise for the females. There is no doubt about Sindhis have prospered a lot. Here females have much more freedom than what they had in Sindh. In Sindh we also didn’t have education for girls. I was the first graduate in Larkana and because of this the whole Panchayat was angry.
R. Jawhrani: Would you like to give any message to the younger generation?
K. Bhambani: I have the message for the younger generation. Nowadays our youngsters are mostly trying to follow Western Culture. Since we are spread all over the world, there has been a lot of effect of foreign culture on our youngsters. We should warn them about it and tell them to identify with their origins. The original Sindhi belongs to the Sufi culture. The songs of Shah, Sachal and Sami should not be forgotten. Therefore I am stressing that through vocal culture we should try to inform them about our original culture and heritage. It is the duty of parents also to inculcate those traditions and customs in their children, like getting up early at dawn and singing the praise of the lord as we did in Sindh. Nowadays where is all that? The Western culture has had a great influence. We should leave behind this materialism and give more importance to spiritualism, only then will our Sindhyat benefit. We have all to work hard united. We should be ready to sacrifice. In today’s time this aspects of sacrifice, I am sorry to say, is quite low. We have prospered financially but lagged behind in spiritualism. My message for the youngster is “come let us move forward, identity our path and move in the right direction which will benefit us.”
R. Jawhrani: I am sure our youngsters will follow your message. Dadi thank you for sharing your experience and memories of Sindh.
K. Bhambani: Thank you.
GANDHIDHAM MAITRI MANDAL
(Registered Under the Societies Registration Act)
President Bhai Pratap Dialdas [1955-1967]
Kaka Pribhdas Tolani [1967-1986]
Kavi Hundraj Dukhayal [1986-2003]
Kum. Krishna BhamBhani [2003-2006]
Dr. Ramesh Vaswani [2006-:- till Date]
Chairperson Emeritus: Ms. Krishna Bhambhani [2006 – till date]
Bhai Pratap Daildas, founder of Gandhidham Kandla Complex is the founder of Gandhidham Maitri Mandal an education society established in 1955. Ere this from 1950 the educational, cultural and social functions of this society were performed by the Sindhu Resettlement Corporation through its social amenities department.
Gandhidham Maitri Mandal is the backbone of the Socio, Educational, and Cultural structural of Gandhidham. It caters to the needs of the educational and cultured need of our society. Dada Hundraj Dukhayal – Past President, along with the group of the devoted worker has done yeoman’s service to the society.
At present the Mandal runs directly under its care 4’ Higher Secondary Schools with Science stream in English and Hindi medium, 4 Secondary schools, 4 Primary Schools, 5 Balmandirs, Yoga Mandir, Gymnasium centre, Prof. N. R. Malkani’ Public Library & Reading Room, Bewas Vani Mandir, Bhai Pratap Memorial, Dada Dukhayal Smark and Dada Dukhayal College of Education.
Arts College started in 1963 and science faculty added in the year 1967. Mandal Started Polytechnic in 1962 which ran classes for Mistri and overseer course for 1 year. Hundreds and Hundreds of young men availed of this opportunity to become qualified and got jobs here in Gandhidham as the construction of a twin township of Gandhidham was in full swing under the batch of eminent engineers who continued this work of constriction in war footing.
In 1968 the Gandhidham Collegiate Board took on its shoulders this Herculean task of upgrading colleges and the Polytechnic and has wonderful work done in advertisement. It is really a boon for the whole Kutch. Kaka Pribhdas Tolani and his family’s contribution in higher education field in laudable.
Higher secondary schools have shown remarkable progress and are the recipients of many awards state as well as National. Past Principals of Kanya Maha Vidhaylaya Adipur & J.S. Adarsh Kanya Vidhaylaya are the State best Teacher and National Best Teacher Award winner respectively. Very recently one more teacher Ms. Kamlesh Bhatia of J.S. Adarsh Kanya Vidyalaya has been honoured as the best teacher. The teachers of all Mandal schools are mostly devoted to the cause of Education.
Right from the beginning the Mandal Schools have played an important role in all the constructive plans and programmes of the township. All the important days of Great Sindhi Personalities and Festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm. Every year Gandhidham Foundation Day is celebrated with pomp and dignity on 12th February for 3-4 days.
The sapling planted by Bhai Pratap in 1950-1951 and natured by Kavi Hundraj Dukhayal has now-grown ill a formidable shady tree with roots embedded in solid foundation and branches spread in various direction.
Smt. Ishwaribai Jiwatram Buxani Yoga Mandir started in1995 financed by Mr. Ram Buxani has progressed immensely and – its branch Gymnasium centre runs health for the Gandhidham People, which is financed by respected Shn. Gopaldas Mahbubani Since 2006-07 heath centre which multifarious activities pertaining to Naturopathy and environmental reformation have been started.
We have started Dada Dukhayal College of Education (B.Ed. College) from the year 2004-05 from 2005-06 Gandhidham Maitri Mandal has started English Medium Primary as well as Pre-Primary School at Adipur & Gandhidham.
In order to start sport culture in the schools, the ground in the Maitri Sport Complex has been prepared, for sports and athletics activities District & State Level sport e.g. hockey, football, soft ball table tennis as well as athletics comps & competition have been held in the past one year.
Also, Maitri Mandal with the co-operation of the Kutch District Table Tennis Association has started a Table Tennis Coaching Center in Maitri schools complex, which has attracted many students from all schools in Gandhidham area.
These are our personal activities but there is more room for improvement and expansion of schools activities. Upgrading and improving the quality of the institution and fulfilling their developments is the main task of Gandhidham Maitri Mandal.
Gandhidham Maitri Mandal