Sunday, July 26, 2020

Portrait of Mahrattas, KP family, Brariangan, 1950s

Back in 2012, I had posted this photograph from a collection given in "The Hindu Householder Family and Kinship: A Study of the Pandits of Rural Kashmir"(1957-58), an anthropological study of Kashmiri Pandits living is "Utrassu-Umanagri"  (Votaros-Brariangan, as known to Pandits)) twin villages 12 miles east of Anantnag. Even then I wondered who exactly were the subjects of the study and what became of them. I was not married back then. After getting married a few years back, I have now new relations. The image meanwhile the image was often shared around online all these years, even making it to some random articles on Kashmiri Pandits.

used in Quint


This is the story of the photograph and the people in it.

A few days back, my brother-in-law from wife's side Rajesh Pandita wrote in to say that the little girl in the front centre is his mother. 
 



Rajesh Pandita provides the details:

This photograph is of my maternal side family who used to live in Brariangan (Umanagri). At the back is in turban is my Nana Ji:  Mahishwarnath Mahratta. On right is my Nani: Mugaljigri. Left side is my Mamaji, O.N. Mahratta. In front of them is my mother Jaya Mahratta along with her bother Vasudev Mahratta. Two ladies on right are part of extended family.

Prior to 1947, Mahishwarnath Mahratta was living in Delhi at Connaught Place and working with Birla group at the time of construction of Birla Mandir. His name is engraved in a stone there.  He was manager at Birla House Manager which at the time was a new structure. Primarily he work involved taking care of  guests like Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahamta Gandhi and freedom fighters who used to frequently visit and stay in the Birla House. My Nana was close to both Gandhi and Nehru but had a special Kashmiri bond with Nehru. In early 1950s, when Nehru visited Kashmir after independence, he visited Pahalgam and invited my Nana to Pahalgam. After the 1948 War, my Nana he moved back to Kashmir due to health reasons and built a house in Umanagri, Anantnag. The house seen at the back of the photograph. 

T.N Madan knew Mahishwarnath Mahratta back from his time in Delhi. When Madan moved to Kashmir for his study, he sought him out, moved to his village, stayed with them for weeks and thus the famous anthropological study of Kashmiri Pandits was born. 

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1 comment:

  1. Nostalgic photograph ,I had been many times to this village because of my Bua Ji .Being a small child usually accompanying my parents still have some prints in my memory .The house of Mr Maheshwar nath ji was in front of my Buas Niwas . It was time of simplicity and purity .Gone are those days ......

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