Hyderabad is a melting pot of different cultures like a metropolitan should be. From the times of Qutb Shahis, the city has been witnessing a beautiful milieu of diverse traditions and one community which is integral to this multiculturism is the Gujarati commune, which is in the heart of the city in Koti.
It is said that when the Gujaratis came here they decided to reside in Koti and with the number of inhabitants in the vicinity the area got the name, Gujarati Galli. Enter the small lanes and by-lanes and one can witness a slew of electronic shops, selling everything under the sky.
During Navaratri, which is the most revered period for Gujaratis, the U-shaped street is decked with decorations and festive air rents every nook and corner. And, the famous Gujarati School in the neighbourhood is the host to the 9-day Navaratri extravaganza.
“We are celebrating Navaratri here from 78 years and every year we are more and more enthusiastic about this revelry,” shares Bharti Ben Patel, Programme Manager of Shri Gujarati Pragati Samaj, which conducts Navaratri here.
Bharti, who migrated to Hyderabad in 1992 along with her family informs that the Samaj (community) has six thousand and five hundred registered members.
“The whole community is like a family, well I must say a huge and happy family. We celebrate all the occasions together. Every year we conduct dandiya, garba and various competitions and people from all ages of our community participate in the competitions,” Bharti Ben, who is a commerce graduate, informs with a bright smile in her endearing Gujarati laced Hindi. “For dandiya and garba we charge a nominal fee of Rs 100 and that proceeds go into the puja and rest we donate to old age homes,” she adds.
Giving a little nugget of knowledge Bharti says, “We Gujaratis have come to Hyderabad about 300 hundred years ago and this is our home now, we have adapted to the local culture and it is good to live in such a multicultural cosmopolitan.”
Shri Gujarati Pragati Samaj was registered about 75 years ago and the Society has two schools and colleges in the area. Mahesh Bhai Patel, President; Jignesh Bhai Doshi, Secretary, and Amba Lal Patel, Treasurer are the key people of the Society.
“The main focus of Shri Gujarati Pragati Samaj is on education. About 78 years ago we started with only two classes and we used to teach only Gujarati and today we have schools and colleges where people from other communities are also studying.”
“Apart from the education we do a lot of social work too, we have a women’s wing Mahila Mandali and we empower women from our community and also from other communities with vocational skills. The Samaj also conducts free medical camps, blood donation drives, etc regularly,” she informs.
About community’s next festival bash she says, “After Navaratri, we celebrate Diwali with pomp and gaiety too. All the members congregate in the school and we have a programme ‘Diwali Sneh Sammelan’ where we meet and extend greetings to everybody here,” she shares. #KhabarLive