Uncovering the story of Cox Town’s Sindhi Colony

Uncovering the story of Cox Town’s Sindhi Colony

By Sudeshna Dutta

A new documentary will throw light on the settlement of Sindhis in East Bengaluru after the Partition

Adiverse culture is what forms the face of a country. But what is the history behind so many small communities that have settled here? ReReeti, an organisation that works towards revitalising museums and heritage sites, will be documenting the origin all that is pertinent to the existence of Cox Town’s Sindhi community in Bengaluru.

The Undivided Identities: Unknown Stories of Partition project aims to uncover how, during the Partition, non-Muslims from Sindh in Pakistan migrated and settled down in different states of India, including Bangalore (Mysore State), says Tejshvi Jain. The Sindhi Colony in Cox Town was created in 1948, to house the refugees from Sindh in Pakistan. The government – then the Mysore State, bought the land from a man named Ramaswamy, and allowed refugees to settle in plots inside the area.

For the documentary, the team is in touch with several people, including the Sindhi Community Association. “We have spoken to people who are integral to community for different reasons — Stella Machado of Stella Studio on Wheeler Road, Meeta Bhudarani, whose father was quite prominent in the Sindhi community, Dr Lakshman, who estimates that he has had over 30,000 cups of coffee at the legendary Sharda Lunch Home, and Frank Coelho, whose father owned the dairy farm on which Sindhi colony was built. We are still uncovering stories of the colony’s residents,” says Jain.

Funded by the Project 560 Grant from the India Foundation for Arts, the 20-minute documentary will be a mix of oral interviews, photographs and data collected from written documents. “It will talk about the history of the Sindhi colony, landmarks (past and present), people’s associations and memories of the colony and idea of home (then and now),” says Jain, adding that the Guru Mandir plays an important role in the community, as well as the Sindhi Association. “We have also been told about Sharda Lunch Home, a restaurant serving excellent coffee and vegetarian food to colony residents for a long time. Many have also mentioned fond memories of the Gymkhana as well,” she says.

According to Jain, the history of Sindhi Colony in Cox Town connects Bengaluru to the Partition of India, showing its widespread effects across India. “The Sindhi population has been in the city for over 70 years now, and despite integrating and giving back to the wider community, has remained connected to the colony and traditions, festivals, and community events which bind the Sindhi community together. Everyone we have spoken to has felt that Sindhi Colony was a wonderful place to grow up, and is still a special part of Bengaluru,” she says.

Among some people Jain has spoken to, Machado’s tradition in the early days stood out. “Since many fathers were working overseas in the ‘80s, mothers would bring their children and their birthday cakes to Machado’s photography studio, light candles, and take photographs of the occasion. The photos were then sent by post to the fathers. This was their way of including their fathers in the celebrations,” says Jain.

If you’re a Sindhi and you have a story to share, write to: tejshvi@rereeti.org.


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