The history of India (Bharatvarsh) is such a place on the earth planet which was not much affected by the natural calamities and disasters like the ice age and the prolonged spine chilling, icy cold storms and blizzards that happened in America and the European countries at the beginning and at the recessing period of these ice ages. Thus, the history of the uninterrupted survival of the civilisation of India goes back to an unbelievable period of time, which could easily be said to be the beginning of the human civilization on the earth planet, whereas the history of the other countries of the world is the history of only 6,000 to 8,000 years.
Even today there are no physical means that could hold or represent the information of the Indian history in its original form without any flaw, fault, change or damage for such a long period of time. It is beyond human power. At the same time, it is also very important that, for the knowledge and the encouragement of the existing generation, that they must know and make them aware of the glories of the past. Thanks to the works of Saints and Rishis who maintained this knowledge with their Divine power and reproduce it on the earth planet in the form of books. That is how the unbroken continuity of the original records of the history is made possible to be available in every generation of the human civilisation.
History of Parajiya Sonis
Shree Sagarkumar Barot Rajkot, India
Historically, the early Vedic society was divided into four broad groups:- Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. Sonis came from Khastriya caste. Today, there are many communities who work in the jewellery trade. Those who are in jewellery business are called Sonis. When a person is unable to earn sufficiently from one trade will then look elsewhere and venture into other businesses. Such evolution has been going on in the history. We may earn less due to circumstances but that does not mean that our original trade had been destroyed. Today, there are many rich people who have taken up farming. So in future, their generation will become known as farmers. Like we became Sonis from Khsatriyas, there are many others who became farmers, traders, cobblers etc. Our family was Sonis before our forefathers became your Barots. Now my sons have again taken up jewellery business so will become jewellers. So the evolution carries on.
Sonis history in English
Todays new generation is much more educated. There is a revolution going on in the modern world. Many Samaj are now researching about their historical roots thus, I wrote and published fifteen books on the Sonis history in Gujarati. New generation, specially born abroad, do not have any knowledge of our forefathers. It is very important that these children learn about such a history. I had always hoped that somebody, somewhere will carry the torch and write this history in English. It seems that the Lord has answered my prayers. I wish you all the best and pray to Mataji that you succeed in your task that you have undertaken.
As you aware, there are many Muslims in Mombasa, whom I have met, whose surnames are similar to Parajiya Sonis - Sagar, Ghaghada, Kagadada, etc., I agree to your comment that this community is completely ignorant about their history. This is because their religious leaders never revealed the true history.
For further reading on Parajiya History, please click Muslim Parajiya Soni
Please do not hesitate to ask for any help or information that you may require on the Parajiya history.
Best Regards and wishes - Sagarkumar Barot
BIRTH OF PARAJIYA SONI SAMAJ
PARAJIYA SONIS 2000 YEARS AGO
2000 years ago, we were all of Kshatriya community. They were settled in the ancient city called Parajav, (it is now called Patiala.), located in Punjab, near the Sindh border in India. The community went through very hard times. Most of them lost all their assets and livelihood. People were confused and found it difficult to meet their daily household expenses. People used to do what ever odd jobs they used to get. Many of them even became bandits to support their families.
In the year 145A.D. there was one bandit leader called Hakmibandha. His real named was Hukamsinh Parmar and was a devotee of Mataji. He got tired of living on immoral earnings and realised that the community will never make any progress if they carry on being bandits. So he decided to give up this life style and do something good for the community. He prayed to Hingraj Mataji and pleaded for her forgiveness for their misdeeds and also asked for her guidance. Legend has it that Mataji answered to his sincere prayers and by giving him jewellery tools and teaching him jewellery business. Hakmibandha then taught this business to his followers and their children. This community from Parajav city then became goldsmiths and jewellers and were called Parajiya Soni Samaj. Hakmibandha is the first person to become a Parajiya Soni.
Note: Parajiya Soni Samaj stayed as united Soni Samaj for next 1000 years. It then split into three Communities: Parajiya Pattni, Parajiya Girnaras and Parajiya Kutchi Sonis. There was also an unfortunate fourth split. This breakaway section converted themselves to Muslims. They were excluded from Soni Community, thus removed from the Barots register book.
Parajiya Soni clans are mainly divided into three branches called Vansh (Lineage) Suryavansh, Chandravansh and Hanumanvash. It is important to have the basic understanding of the origin of Kshatriya and Vansh. This fact is clearly stated in many Hindu Puranik literatures like Bhagwat Puran, Bramha Puran, and Vishnu Puran etc.
This is the short history of Parajiya Soni Samaj. Further articles will be added at a later date
(This information is elaborated in one of his books by Shree Sagarkumar Barot)
Shri Sagarbhai Barot resides in Rajkot, India and is our Sonis Barot. In the old times, there was no such government system of registering births in India. Barots did this work. Each community had such Barots, who would record the names of new births and other historical details in their books. These books then got passed on from Barots one generation to the next. These record books are still maintained and kept up to date by Shree Sagarbhai Barot - Editor
PARAJIYA ANCESTRAL TREE
This is just a very brief explanation. to understand this Ancestral Tree
There are three main lineage branches called Vansh - Suryavansh, Chandravansh and Hanuman Vansh. All Parajiya Sonis family roots come from these three Vanshs
Suryavansh : Bhagwan Ram, the seventh avtar of Bhagwan Vishnu is the most prominent Surya Vanshi. Thus all Parajiyas who are Suryavanshi are the descendents of Bhagwan Ram
Chandravansh : Bhagwan Krishna was a ChandraVanshi So in the Parajiya Ambo, those who are Chandravanshi are the descendents of Bhagwan Krishna
Hanuman Vansh : As the name suggest, Hanuman Vanshi are the descendents of Hanuman.
A complete comprehensive history of Parajiya Sonis will be posted chapter by chapter as we develop our website.
Click the link to view Parajiya ancestral Tree - Parajiya Ambo (double click on ambo to enlarge)
As mentioned in our History Section, Parajiya Sonis were from Kshatriya Caste. The Kshatriya caste was traditionally that of the warriors. It was in the year 145A.D. that one leader Hakmibandha who took refuge and sought advice from Hingraj Mataji who guided and taught him to become jewellers. The abode of Hingraj Mataji temple is still in existence in todays Pakistan, 170 miles from Karachi.
AADH SHAKTI DEVI MAA
Hakmibandha was from the city of Parajav (todays Patiala in Punjab). He was thus the first person to become a Parajiya Soni. The name of this community of goldsmiths and jewellers was derived from the name of this city. Sonis of Parajav later became known as Parajiya Soni. Parajiya Soni Samaj stayed as one Soni Samaj for next 1000 years. A section of Parajiya Soni converted themselves to Muslims.
Indian History during Islamic Invasion
The Islamic invasion of India shows India being one of the many countries having a violent spread of Islam. Many Muslims in the Indian sub-continent & surrounding areas (Afghanistan; Iran) are Muslim today because there ancestors were turned to Islam usually by force, persecution, or by laws favoring Muslims. Examples of this are the invasions of Muhammad bin Qasim and Mahmud of Ghazni. Historian Will Durrant wrote that the Mohammadan conquest of India was "probably the bloodiest story in history."
We have already mentioned in the History Section that Parajiya Soni Community (the community that came into being in 145A.D.) used to live in Punjab in North India. The Parajiya Community was also severely affected during this period.
Mahmud of Ghazni (971A.D. April 1030), was the ruler of Ghazni from 997 until his death. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazni (in present-day Afghanistan) into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which included today's Afghanistan, most of modern Iran, and parts of Pakistan and northern India.
Mahmud Ghazni carried sixteen or seventeen campaigns into northern India and Gujarat, as well as others to the north and west. His first campaigns were against the Hindu kingdom, which occupied the Punjab from the Indus east to the Ganges. Mahmud's campaigns seem to be motivated by both religious zeal and an interest in wealth and gold. Mahmud followed the injunction to convert non- Muslims, whom he had vowed to chastise every year of his life. Hindu temples were depositories of vast quantities of wealth, in cash, golden images, and jewellery. The later invasions of Mahmud were directed to temple towns, including Thanesar (1012), Mathura and Kanuj (1018), and finally Somnath (1026).
The spread of Islam in India during this period was the result of immediate mass conversions. It took several centuries during the onslaught of Mughal Empire, especially during the Aurangzeb (reigned 1658-1707) period to finally spread Islam in all portions of India. Most Indian Muslims who converted to Islam belonged to the Hindu fold and some of their ancestors embraced Islam under duress, although some did willingly or under the influence of laws favoring Muslims. Many Kshatriya (warrior) chose to become Muslims during this period. This included many of the Parajiya Soni community.
Prof. K.S. Lal calculated in his book The Growth of Muslim Population in India that between the years 1000 AD and 1500 AD the population of Hindus decreased by 80 Million.
Break up of Parajiya Sonis Samaj
Again to summarise from our History Section, Parajiya Soni Samaj stayed united as Soni Samaj for next 1000 years. It then split into three Communities: Parajiya Pattni, Parajiya Girnaras and Parajiya Kutchi Sonis. As mentioned in the Indian History above there was also a fourth split. This breakaway section converted themselves to Muslims. There are many Memon Sonis living in Mombasa who are aware of this history. They are also aware that their surnames used to be Kagadada, Sagar, Challa, Suru, etc., unfortunately after the spilt Sonis Barot; (birth registrar) stopped recording the births of those who converted to Islam.
Click for further reading - Muslim Parajiya Soni
Parajiya Sonis during the turbulent period of Muslim invasion, moved from Parajav(Punjab) to Patan (Gujarat). So as they were from the city of Parajav, they were called Parajiyas and since settled in Patan; they were called Parajiya Sonis of Patan and which later became known as Parajiya Pattni Sonis.
Due to political reasons, there was a further split in the Samaj. Two new Parajiya Samaj came into being which became known as Parajiya Girnara Soni and Kutchi Parajiya Sonis
We shall continue this interesting history of how and why Girnara Sonis and Kutchi Sonis split from Parajiya Sonis from Patan.
Dont also miss our forthcoming article on Hingraj Mataji who was the reincarnation of Goddess Sati and the place of abode which is currently in Pakistan.
Pattnis in Africa
We have sufficient information from Shri Barots books. However we still need to know a lot more about our history, especially the history of Sonis in the last century.
Our forefathers migrated from India about 120 years ago to many countries - Africa, The Middle East, Mauritius, and Fiji and recently to Britain, Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. and Canada. I do not think any history has ever been written on them to date. It is important that we record this now; otherwise such historical facts will be lost forever. Since most of the Sonis in U.K. came from East Africa, it is appropriate to write a brief history of how the migration started in Africa.
In May 1896 British Government started the construction of the railways in Kenya, which was to run from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. The government brought in 13,000 workers, mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madras. It had not been easy to lay this railway line and many became victims of diseases and wild animals and a number of them lost their lives. In 1899, the railway works reached a flat marshy land. The local natives, the Maasais, knew this place as Ny-robi. This name was later changed and was called Nairobi.
During this period, many middle class Indian traders, artisans and professionals started arriving, particularly after World War 1. These also included many Parajiya Sonis. Who were those pioneer Parajiyas?
In January 1901, the work was completed at Port Florence( now Kisumu ), at the shores of Lake Victoria. Three quarters of those Indian workers then returned back to India.
The bulk of the migration was between 1920 to 1940, when many of our forefathers migrated and settled in Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. This means that each and every one of us have some kind of history of their forefathers. This is an ideal opportunity to record these historical accounts. Would it not be wonderful to have such a permanent record in memory of our forefathers
Parajiya Sonis in U.K.
There was a further migration from Africa to U.K. This happened in four stages.
The first one in early 1960s, those who came to study, then in 1967 from Kenyan exodus, in 1973 from Idi Amins Uganda and lastly 1975 onwards, when Sonis came from various countries. We need the history for all these periods. This is the first time that such a project has been undertaken.
Shree Sagarkumar Barot - Paraj Vansh Prakash
Wikipedia, the Encyclopaedia.
PARAJIYA PATTNIS IN ZANZIBAR
Vinay Chhaganlal Ramji Kagdada Dallas. USA
In the late 19th century, the Sultan of Oman moved his throne from Muscat to Zanzibar, which was the main slave market. Many Indian businessmen were encouraged to settle here.
The mode of Transportation was dhows, moving with the help of sails & winds. Seasonal Monsoon/Trade winds allowed the dhows to move in different directions in different seasons. The majority of the Indians who ventured to settle in this Island, came from Gujarat-mostly from Kathiawar/Kutch, sailing out of the fishing ports of Porbunder, Bedi Bunder, Veraval and other Kutch ports. The khalasis (sailors) and the Maalums (captains) were mainly from the Kharwa community.
Amongst the Indians, were many Sonis who came to Zanzibar were - Luhar Soni, Kansara Soni, Vania (Shreemali) Soni, Memon Soni, Bohra Soni, Parajiya Girnara Soni and the Parajiya Pattni Soni.
First Parajiya Sonis in Zanzibar
The Pattni Sonis were mainly were 'Sagars' from Shil, Madhupur and Mangrol and 'Vayas' from Prabhas Paatan and Veraval area. Some of the Soni names which come to my mind were Haji Ahmed Haji Elias, Haji Budha Haji Hasham, Visanji Dungarshi, Tulsidas Nenshi Devshi, Morarji Devshi, Dhanji Pala and many others. And amongst the Parajiya Pattni Sonis were Pragjibhai Dharamshi, Kakubhai Bhaya, Chhaganbhai Ramji, Laljibhai Savji, Liladharbhai Hansraj, Bhanjibhai Bhagwan and many more. They were in their tender age of between 15 and 20 years. They were the pioneers who left their families and beloved ones to adventure out of India to settle in Zanzibar. Most Sonis became proficient in the local language Kiswahili and the royal language Arabic and Kutchhi, which was the language spoken by the majority Indians. There was also another language which was exclusive spoken by the Sonis called 'fali language.
They suffered lot of hardship whilst trying to settle down. Most of them would sleep in groups in their own shops. Cooking was also done in groups. So their home and work were all in the same place. Their special dish was Khichdi with orange juice!! All these Sonis had left their families in India. They used to send their remittances to their families by Hawalas through merchant bankers, mainly run by the Bhatias.
First Pattni Mahila in Zanzibar
Amongst the first Parajiya women who came to Zanzibar was Maniben w/o Chhaganbhai Ramji. Sonis are fervent worshipers of Mataji. Soni 'Garbi' was popular during Navratri festival. They would spend money lavishly on dcor and dresses they had unique technic to play their 'garbi'. Even as of present day, one of the Soni is stilling living in Zanzibar, a descendant of the original settlers- Kamal V.Sagar. **** to be continued.
Zanzibar: The missing History
Mrs. Kala Dayaljibhai Mavji Leicester - UK
I read about the history of Parajiya Pattnis in Zanzibar. There were few famous Parajiyas that we should remember in our history like Ranchod Purshottam, Velji Pitamber and A.P. Bhimji. The first two names mentioned started a jewellery shop called Velji & Ranchod. There was also another shop owned by Kakubhai Hirji.
These were few of the Pattni pioneers who came to Zanzibar by boat and despite lot of hardships managed to settle down. Zanzibar used to be a stop over port for boats coming from India to collect drinking water en route to Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam. These boats used to anchor for two days. Ranchodbhai and Veljibhai would go and meet all these Pattni passengers and invite them for lunch at their homes. They then packed some food for these Pattnis for their onward journey. These were the generous Pattnis whom we should all be proud of and remember them.
Parajiya Pattni in Zanzibar----Continuation of the history Part 2
Vinay Chhaganlal Ramji Kagdada Dallas USA
There were many other Indian communities like the Brahmins, Vaniks, Lohanas and Bhatias. Parajiya Sonis were highly respected and were referred to as Soni Mahajan. There were about 80 goldsmith or 'sonara' shops throughout the Indian population of some 60,000. However, it should be noted that the sonara shops also included Bhoy, Arab and Ceylonese Sonis. The coastal Africans who had converted to Islam, the Arabs and the local Indians adored jewellery whether it was gold, rolled gold, silver or mixed silver (rupu). Thus the sonis had a thriving business.
Chunilal Liladhar catered mainly to the local Indian clientele. He was a very talented craftsman and also led a stylish lifestyle that combined with a contemporary dress sense. Some sonis later moved to the sister island of Pemba; some of these Parajiyas included Jivan Mulji, Ramji Hirji and Chhaganlal Kurji. There was another group of sonis that specialised in manufacturing African jewellery, which was being sold by the travelling Arab/Baloch merchants who travelled deeper into the mainland villages to sell the merchandise to the local Africans. Kakubhai Hirji and Velji & Ranchhoddas Co were such specialists. Indeed Kakubhai was the first Parajiya to own a car and also to own a fruit and clove plantation in Zanzibar. A.P.Bhimji of V. & R. Co went on to become one of the renowned and successful businessmen overseas.
Zanzibar was a gateway to East Africa. Many Indians moved to the mainland especially after the construction of Kenya/Uganda Railways. Being in strategic position, not far from the mainland, Zanzibar was a very convenient port of stop for many ships, dhows, and navy. It also emerged as a tourist paradise. Some sonis excelled in the tourist business with curios and Kutchhi artistry ghatkaam the notable sonis in this business were that I could recall were Shivji Morarji and Shivshankar Kalyanji.
Then there was also an illegal trade in alluvial gold or gold dust, commonly referred to as 'bhuko' and uncut diamonds (kankara). These mainly came from then Tanganyika and South African mines. The mineworkers used to pass on such goods to traders in towns near the mines. These were then brought into Zanzibar. There was also importation of gold coins from Italy, bullion gold fondly referred to as plates, biscuits and bricks from South Africa and Europe. The final destination for such gold was India where there was an insatiable demand. Sonis were involved in various stages in the export of this gold, whether legal or otherwise.
The political revolutions, coups, expulsions, Africanisation, racial discrimination or economic disasters forced the Indians, sonis included, to move out of Zanzibar and eventually from East Africa. Many emigrated to the UK, some settled in USA, Canada, Australia and others returned to India.
At present the highest number of Parajiyas outside India are settled in the United Arab Emirates. The rest are distributed all over the world. By and large they are doing fairly well in their chosen professions and businesses. Fortunately for them the circumstances are different. Since many of them are not in the same 'goldsmith' business with their inter-related social and business connections and jealous ...hopefully there is more peace and harmony among them and compassion to help the disadvantaged members of the community.
Times are changing very fast. Todays Pattni Samaj with its current progress is now making its own history. Let the future generation review this history. I may have missed out lot of names. My apologies for that. The only thing to say now is that the Parajiyas are mostly in a better position. It all started with the courage, sacrifice and the adventure of the few.
Some of them lost their lives in the SIKOTRA storms and went down with dhows into the icy cold waters of the Indian oceans. Our hats off to them
PARAJIYA PATTNI SONI IN AFRICA
Babulal Mamaiya Ghaghada Rajkot - India
I am writing this article from my fading memories. So please do excuse if I have forgotten to mention any names or if you find any other discrepancies.
The first ones who came to Africa were Hirjibhai Lakhas grandfather, Bhim Hadabapa, Jetshibhai Naran from Lalpur, Parmanandbhai Dossa (well known as Mabheni walla), Laljibhai Savji Vaya, Raghvji Mithabhai (brother of Narshibhai Mithabhai) and one Girnara Soni, C.M.Jinna. Some of the Pattnis who later joined them after 1944, were Kanjibhai Meghjibhai, Shamjibhai Lakha, Jamnadas Muljibhai and Merambhai Govind.
The only mode of transport from India to Africa was sailing boats which used to leave either from Porbandar port in Gujarat or from Mumbai. It used to take nearly one month to reach Mombasa. The fare for such a journey was 210 Rupees (three pounds!)
Talking about Nairobi, few names that I can remember who came first were Damjibhai Devji Vaya, Laljibhai Jetha Vaya, Naranbhai Jetha Dhanak, Jethabhai Kathad Challa, Jamnadas Jadavji and few more.
Going back to Mombasa, the Samaj originally bought a plot of land near Brahm Samaj in Station Road. This was then subsequently sold and the Samaj building was built near Makupa Road. It was formerly inaugurated in August 1952. Parmanandbhai Dossa became the first President of the Mombasa Samaj
Pattnis in East Africa - corrections
Jitu Anandjibhai Jeram. London
Please correct following discrepancies in the article on Parajiya Pattni Sonis in East Africa, as this is not factually correct. I have attached a word document with facts and some history for the names within.
Bhim and Hadabapa were sons of Govani and neither of them came to East Africa The first Ghaghada to arrive in East Africa was Samat Bhim, - grandfather of Anandji Jeram, and not as reported in the article.
Shamat Bhim was the original founder of Hirji Lakha (the shop), as it is known today. Shamji Lakha first arrived in East Africa around 1910 followed by his brothers Hirji, Purshottam, and Damji Lakha, brother of Samat found East Africa not to his liking and went back to Kharadi- India.
Raghvji Mithahai (son of Hadabapa) was the other Ghaghada as correctly stated in the article to arrive in East Africa. (Babulal Mamaiyas side of the family)
The name of Hirji Lakha (shop) came into existence around 1925, after the death of Samat Bhim. Jeram Samat was not in Mombasa at the time and as it was the family business Hirji Lakha (known as Seth meaning boss) was the most appropriate name to continue trading of the shop.
I hope these facts have further enlightened you.
The writer Babulal is descendant of Govani and so am I. I make these corrections with full respect to him and his fading memory.
Babulal - Mamaiya Mitha Hada Govani (The writer of original article)
Jitu - Anandji Jeram Samat Bhim Govani (Me)
Tribhovan (Abbi) Shamji Lakha Bhim Govani (Lakha connection)
Finally, Congratulations are in order for the first PPA News in the UK, and I look forward to the launch of the web site.
Thank you Jitubhai for your comments and corrections. As we are recording history of the East African Pattnis for the first time, there are bound to be some discrepancies, which can only be rectified by ones immediate family. Editor
PARAJIYA PATTNIS IN ADEN
Rameshchandra Jamnadas Satikuvar (London)
First Parajiya Sonis in UK
I first came to U.K. for studies, from Aden in August 1962. Pravin Bhagwandas Choksi (Kagadada) and Mansukh Haribhai Ghaghada followed me within fifteen to twenty days time. So we three Parajiyas came to study here in August/ September 1962. We three, were the first Parajiya Pattnis to arrive in UK.
When we left the life in Aden in 1962 life was normal and businesses were thriving. This was also a period when the movement for Aden's independence from the British was gathering pace. Aden eventually got its independence in 1967 (five years after we left). Due to the political turmoil that followed, majority of the Indians including most of Sonis started to leave Aden. My younger brother was among very few who stayed behind with family. Finally the country became so unstable that he also left in around 1988. To my knowledge I do not think any ParajiyaPattni is currently living in Aden (now called Yemen)
PARAJIYA PATTNI IN U.A.E.
Haresh V. Dhakan - U.A.E
The migration of the Parajiya Pattni Sonis in the Gulf, mainly in Bahrain and Dubai started in around 1950. This was the time where they had to struggle for basic needs, as there was no electricity or drinking water available easily. There was no cultivation of vegetables and grains. These were brought in from India or from the neighbouring countries. Despite such difficulties, gradually managed to establish and expand themselves. Today by contributing to the trade and economy that U.A.E. has carved a very successful and efficient market in gold jewellery locally known as GOLD SOUK. We owe a lot to our elders to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Since the advent of our elders the population of the community in the U.A.E. has now grown to a sizeable 3000 members (500 families approx.) The largest group resides in Dubai and Sharjah. Our Samaj is known as Shree Parajiya Soni Samaj. We organise many social events and the best being the Navratri and our New Year celebrations when the whole community of Parajiyas get-together.
The Samaj members are always in the forefront taking active part in various Charities like Morbi flood, droughts in Gujarat, the mission for Kargil Jawaans funds and the recent earthquake in Gujarat. As the Gold and Jewellery trade being the vital part of the economy, Sonis and Pattnis are active members of various trade organisations
We thank Sagarbhai Barot, Vinaybhai, Babulalbhai, Jitubhai, Kalaben, Hareshbhai and Rameshbhai for their contribution
Pran Chhaganbhai Arjan (Dhanak), London - Editor