This is a funny one.
I didn’t really know the difference between the Oshwal and Navnat community, or that there is ill feeling between the two, until recently.
I remember being around some members of Suraj’s family and having the Mickey taken out of me. How? They kept calling me ‘ardhi’ which means half. It finally got explained to me that Oshwal are ‘Vissa’ and Navnat are ‘Dasa’. Vissa is close to the word Viss which means 20 and Dasa is close to the word Das which means 10. Ten is half of twenty. Thus I am half. Of course, it implies that I have half the skill, intelligence and so on.
Anyway that was that.
Then one day, we were having dinner with other members of the family and the joke started again. Finally I heard the whole story! Well, more of the story anyway.
Generations back, the Oshwal community consisted of farmers. They were poorer than the Navnat community who tended to have businesses.
Back in the day, I was told that the Navnats treated the Oshwals badly. If a member of the Oshwal community wanted a drink, they had to bend with their hands cupped together as the Navnatee poured water into their hands so they could drink.
See the thing is, there’s a bit of a joke now between Suraj and I and whoever else is around; whereby we say ‘It must be a you lot thing’ OR ‘It must be an us lot thing’. Unfortunately, those who weren’t around for the previous conversations are taking offence to this banter. However, although it’s a joke, as with most humour, it’s based on a truth. The truth is that there are differences between the two communities. These differences have been highlighted to me because I have married into an Oshwal family. For example, the sari that the bride is given by the groom’s side, on her wedding day is called a gad chodu. In the Navnat community you don’t wear it again, apart from in some specific ceremonies. In the Oshwal community, however, the lady will wear it again whenever a close family member gets married. She’ll wear it during their mandavo ceremony. Food is also different either because it’s a dish specific to one of the communities so it’s unheard of to one of Suraj or I or it’s the same dish but made with a different ingredient so it becomes very different.
I’ll stop there because I don’t want this to turn into a post about how different we are. In actual fact, we are more alike than different.
I guess it’s a shame that some people can’t let go of the history that they know of and live more closely and harmoniously.
It can cause an unnecessary split and create so much negativity. For example, I was so proud last year! All the Jain UK organisations got together and organised an event called Mahavir Janma Kalyanak. It was one event, done in unison. It was amazing! This year, politics about which community should be seen to be leading and which community hall it should be in; meant that we did not hold a joint event. Navnat and Oshwal were split once more.

This is a funny one.

I didn’t really know the difference between the Oshwal and Navnat community, or that there is ill feeling between the two, until recently.

I remember being around some members of Suraj’s family and having the mickey taken out of me. How? Some of them kept calling me ‘ardhi’ which means half. It finally got explained to me that Oshwal are ‘Visa‘ and Navnat are ‘Dasa’. Visa is close to the word Vis which means 20 and Dasa is close to the word Das which means 10. Ten is half of twenty. Thus I am half. Of course, it implies that I have half the skill, intelligence and so on.

Anyway that was that.

Then one day, we were having dinner with other members of the family and the joke started again. Finally I heard the whole story! Well, more of the story anyway.

Generations back, the Oshwal community consisted of farmers. They were poorer than the Navnat community who tended to have businesses.

I was told that, back in the day, Navnats treated Oshwals badly. If a member of the Oshwal community wanted a drink, they had to bend with their hands cupped together as the Navnatee poured water into their hands so they could drink out of their hands.

See the thing is, there’s a bit of a joke now between Suraj and I and whoever else is around; whereby we say ‘It must be a you lot thing’ OR ‘It must be an us lot thing’. Unfortunately, those who weren’t around for the previous conversations are taking offence to this banter.

In some ways, it’s not a joke, as with most humour, it’s based on a truth. The truth is that there are differences between the two communities. These differences have been highlighted to me because I have married into an Oshwal family. For example, the sari that the bride is given by the groom’s side, on her wedding day is called a gad choru. In the Navnat community you don’t wear it often after getting married, apart from in some specific ceremonies. In the Oshwal community, however, the lady will wear it again whenever a close family member gets married. She’ll wear it during their mandavo ceremony. Food is also different either because it’s a dish specific to one of the communities so it’s unheard of to the ‘other’ one or it’s the same dish but made with a different ingredient so it can become very different.

I’ll stop there because I don’t want this to turn into a post about how different we are. In actual fact, we are more alike than different.

I guess it’s a shame that some people can’t let go of the history that they know of and live more closely and harmoniously. Others like to amplify things for whatever reason and I guess there are others who don’t really know but repeat what they’ve been ‘fed’.

It can cause an unnecessary split and create so much negativity. One recent example of this refers to a moment when I felt very proud. It was last year! All the Jain UK organisations got together and organised an event called Mahavir Janma Kalyanak. It was one event, done in unison. It was amazing! This year, politics about which community hall should be used; meant that we did not hold a joint event. Navnat and Oshwal were split once more.

So if you take anything away from this post, could it be that we should forget the past. Simply let it go. Maybe it happened or maybe it didn’t. It’s inaccurate or it’s 100% correct. Either way, it IS history. So can we celebrate similarities, learn from our differences and be closer?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

6 Comments

Anon · October 11, 2009 at 1:20 am

You have not understood the facts.

There is no such sect as NAVNAT. This name was coined first in MOMBASA. As the Oshwal population was much larger than the rest of the VANIA put together, they formed their own community and excluded all others. Therefore we are NOT NAVNAT VANIA. Navnat includes 9 sects of VANIA excluding the Oshwals.

Jains are mostly migrants from Rajasthan. There is a town called OSSIA and those who came from there became OSHWAL. Another town is called SHRIMAL and those who came from here became SHRIMALI. We belong to the SHRIMALI group. Over a period of time, through differences of opinion, there were splits in these organisations and the numbers who grouped together gave a sub-sect name of VISA OSHWAL, DASA SHRIMALI, VISA SHRIMALI etc. So, rightly we are DASA SHRIMALI.

Originally, the OSHWALS who settled in the area of JAMNAGAR in over 50 villages were by profession FARMERS and not BUSINESSMEN.

Hence it is quite possible that they were not treated as BUSINESSMEN by the SHRIMALI community who were all businessmen.

This would include not allowing them to use our utensils to eat or drink from. THIS IS STILL APPLIED BY OSHWALS/ALL TO THE BLACKS IN KENYA! So, why if it is so offending?

Over the period, OSHWALs started moving from farming to business and uplifted their community to a HIGHER STATUS. Now they consider themselves higher than DASA SHRIMALI.

Most of OSHWALS are DERAVASI ~ MURTIPUJAK~ ICONIC in belief. DASA SHRIMALIs are STHANAKVASI~ aniconic in belief. STHANAKVASI have been named as DHUNDHIYA.

So they also call us that as a derogatory status. One must accept HISTORY as it was and not as it is!

Sandip · January 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

Interesting read.

So there are all these different “groups” and “communities” of people, but yet they are all Jains.

As a young educated person and a Jain, I don’t see what benefits or need there is for having all these groups in this day and age. When we all are simply Jain?

Its fine to know about the history, and I think its best to leave that in the PAST?
So that we can get up to speed with the PRESENT,
to create a better FUTURE for all “groups” and “communities”.

    Heena Modi · January 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Agreed! ­čÖé

HARSHAD · January 13, 2011 at 5:45 am

Time has come to save the next generation, rather than bicker about the historical differences. We are all followers of Mahaveer and we should unite to present His philosophy to our next generation in a language that they can comprehend with logical explanations, rather than faith driven ‘ASK NO QUESTIONS!’. If we fail in doing this duty, we shall have no one to blame except ourselves for the loss of our religion, culture and tradition.
I do not know who started this debate, but never mind. Let us stop this, once and for all. Let us pray to one and only Lord Mahaveer and settle all past differences.
Jay Jinendra, Jay Mahaveer.

    Heena Modi · January 13, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I agree
    blind faith doesn’t necessarily work for me
    History has its place
    BUT being divided because of it is a shame. I guess some memories die hard ­čÖü

Heena Modi · March 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Ooops!
Thanks for the correction ­čÖé

Comments are closed.