Sindhis bond over struggle and success Sindhi spirit endures
– Uprooted community celebrates new dawn, Scot discovers hometown roots at city cemetery
If you are a Sindhi living in Calcutta, you have got to know Mohini Bhawnani.
In case you don’t, trust someone to tell you at your first Cheti Chand celebration in town how a spunky 14-year-old had fled Karachi alone aboard a ship in the blood-soaked summer of August 1947 to reach this city and go on to become the first woman engineer at Calcutta Telephones.
To the close-knit community of Sindhis, 82-year-old Bhawnani epitomises the spirit of survival that had brought the first batch of post-Partition migrants here more than six decades ago, scarred but not subdued.
This spirit was on show during an advance Sindhi New Year celebration last Sunday at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra when the elderly and young lined up to greet and shake hands with the still sprightly Bhawnani.
“You can say she is the living embodiment of the history of Sindhis in Calcutta,” said travel company owner Anil Punjabi, who was among those who sought Bhawnani’s blessings.
Cheti Chand, which falls on the second day of Chaitra, is on Tuesday but the community decided to have a get-together on a weekend so that everyone could attend the event. The turnout in excess of 10,000 included Sindhis who came from places like Raidighi and Kalyani.
The Sindhi New Year rituals invoke Ishtadev Uderolal, the presiding deity who is worshipped as Jhulelal and believed to have risen from the sea astride a giant fish. But Sunday’s was more than just a community coming together to celebrate a festival. To those who had risen from the horrors of Partition, the assembly of 10,000-odd Sindhis symbolised a triumph.