Sindhis are synonymous to business in Lucknow, the historic city of Uttar Pradesh in India. Because Sindh and Sindhiyat are ingrained in their blood, they have kept burning the flame of love for Sindh since over seven decades of displacement from the motherland, by naming their businesses and places of worship after the Sindh. One will find the Sindhi temples, bakeries, restaurants and other businesses with such names in Lucknow.
Although, in Lucknow, Sindhis were few thousand in numbers at the time of partition, who migrated to this city after languishing in refugee camps for several months in the states bordering Sindh, they didn’t give up and worked hard facing all the odds. Now, they are known for their flourishing businesses, social and literary activities, religious ceremonies as well as the charities.
Steven W. Ramey, author of a book on Sindhis titled ‘Placing Sindhis’, narrates the ordeal of one H. G. Daswani, who was born in 1941 in Hyderabad Sindh. “Sitting in the air-conditioned office of a Sindhi merchant in Lucknow, Daswani recalled his family’s response to Partition. Like many other Sindhi Hindus, his family remained in Hyderabad after Partition, anticipating that migration would not be necessary,” he writes. Daswani explained, “They thought only kings can change, but population never changes.”
However, after some unrest in Sindh, as refugees flooded in from independent India, and then the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi in January 1948, Daswani’s family and many other Sindhi Hindus lost hope and began to migrate. Daswani’s family went by train to the border in Rajasthan and spent two weeks in a refugee camp, living in tents. They then moved by train to Madhya Pradesh, where authorities housed them in a vacant school building.
Currently, in Lucknow, the city of 3.7 million souls the number of Sindhis might be less than one hundred thousand but still they dominate in many spheres of life.
In 2006, Anupam Srivastava, a blogger of Hindustan Times, had interviewed some Sindhis. One of them, vice president of Hari Om Mandir and Sindhi Welfare Organization Kishen Chand Bhambwani, had said, “Contribution of Sindhis could be gauged from the fact that milk-made bread that Lucknowites eat and which is the No. 1 selling bread in northern India is manufactured by Sindhis. Coca Cola’s bottling plant, Vrindavan Bottlers, is owned by Sindhi and the restaurant business in the city is dominated by the community members, led by the MM Group that owns Marksman Moti Mahal and Mini Mahal.”
Here are the excerpts from interview of Kishen Chand Bambhwani:
“In the literary field too, no one can forget the contribution of Ram Advani. His shop in Hazratganj is still considered the best. He has written so much about the history of the city. His insight into the city’s problems and other matters has been published by leading magazines and newspapers.”
“In confectionary items, Sindhi-owned Good Bakery is number one. Sindhis were God fearing and spent a lot of money on charity.”
“That explains the fine temples of the city like Hari Om Mandir and Shiv Shanti Ashram. Besides, the community has made 101 houses for the poor at Narpat Khera.”
Another Sindhi, Susheel Gurnani, President of Aminabad Traders Association, had said, “Sindhis are a hard working community. One may recall that Sindhis arrived in the city in a bad condition after Partition. They had lost everything in Pakistan and had to start from the scratch. Today, they have grown to be the kings of retail business in the city, cases in point being Sugnamal, Khiamal, Raymond Shop, Keshav Mart, Kashmir Fruit and Satguru.”
Gurnani said, “Sindhis know how to grow in life, they are laborious and always keep working hard even when the chips are down. Remember, no Sindhi owned a house in Lucknow before 1947 but now most of them are living in their own houses. Moreover, 60 years back, Sindhis who were seen as a liability on the society are now the highest contributors to the exchequer. We also conduct maximum number of religious and charity activities in the city. We conduct marriage of 101 poor couples at Shiv Shanti Ashram every year.”
Sindhis have adopted the city as much as the city has adopted them. President of Hari Om Mandir Ram Balani says, “We provide halls for members of others communities too and when it is to mourn a death or for any somber event, we give it free. We only charge a nominal amount in case of marriage of a girl.
Besides that we provide ration to 25 families and give scholarship to the students.”
Sindhis celebrate Jhule Lal Jayanti on the banks of Gomti with great zeal and enthusiasm. Besides that Sindhis Celebrate Shiv Ratri, Ram Navmi and Guru Parva on Ganga Snan.
Sindhis perform rituals the traditional way but also accept the city’s culture, celebrating Dusshehra, Deepwali, Holi, and Krishna Janmashtami the Lucknow way. But they also want Lucknowites to celebrate Chetti Chand Jayanti and most Sindhis regret there is no holiday on Chetti Chand Jayanti.
The temples also participate actively in the Sindh Cultural Program which is organized jointly by U.P. Sindhi Sabha and Sindhi Council of India (U.P. Chapter) on 26th January every year.
“Mandir strongly believes that real worship (Puja) is the service of the people. Religion is nothing but the purification of the soul. If it is devoid of a spirit to serve the needy, it becomes socially irrelevant,” says the motto of Temple on its website.
In education sector, Sindhis have established many institutions like Sindhi Vidyalaya – Nagar Shaitra, Lucknow, Sindhi Vidyalaya Girls Inter College in Ram Nagar, Lucknow.
Sindhi Vidyalaya Nagar Shaitra is a State Board School, with a team of 11 dedicated and professional faculties, which are here to ensure that the children get the most from their education. Sindhi Vidyalay was launched in 1959. With the student teacher ratio being 74:1 the primary medium of instruction is Hindi. The school provides education to students from class 1 to 12. This school has approximately 823 as student strength.
Sindhi Vidyalaya Girls Inter College in Lucknow is one of the leading institutions. Among the finest colleges in the city, Sindhi Vidyalaya Girls Inter College in Ram Nagar is also known for offering excellent patient care. The clinic is located centrally in Ram Nagar, a prominent locality in the city. The well-equipped clinic has separate waiting and consultation areas which allow enough space for patients to wait conveniently. Being a specialized college, the doctor offers a number of medical services.
The Lucknow City has also Sindh Bakery, Sindhi Bakery and several such other businesses. Located in South City, Sindh Bakery was established in the year 2004, and soon it came to be known for mouth-watering delicious baked treats. This bakery serves an assortment pure-vegetarian treats such as cakes, pastries, cookies, snacks, puddings, mousse, cheesecakes and muffins.
And more recently, the Sindhis have introduced typical Sindhi Kokies. The well-packed pair of delicious Kokies is sold for Rs.60.