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?