NEWS: Statehood demand for Kutch gains momentum - The Indian Express



Cutchi Memon Jamath, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala, India

Cutchi Memons began to settle in Travancore from The beginning of the 19th century. A few Cutchi Memons were invited from Bombay by the then Dewan of Travancore, Raja Kesava Dasa.  These families first began to settle in Alleppey and Arattupuzha, which were then very important ports on the west coast of former Travancore state. This trading community was encouraged to settle in Travancore with a view to increasing its export trade.  At that time, coconuts and allied products were not much in demand outside the state, and the coir industry was in its infancy. Cutchi Memons exported dried coconut (copra), coir, coir matting, etc. to Bombay and Gujarat provinces.  Gradually these products found a good market in other parts of India. The coir industry grew rapidly, and even a few English firms started factories in Alleppey and Cochin. Some Cutchi Memons settled in Cochin to develop export trade through the Cochin port.  The port of Arattupuzha gradually lost its importance as the land strip between the sea and the backwaters was diminished as a result of the sea advancing eastwards. The people of Arattupuzha left the place and settled in Alleppey, which was at that time on a fishing yard.  The commercial importance of Alleppey began only from that time and reached its zenith in a short time.



Some of the Cutchi Memons in Alleppey and Cochin migrated toTrivandrum to start trade in the then developing town.  They started textile shops, stationery and medical shops. They also began to trade in imported goods from Bomaby, Madras and Calcutta.  They undertook contracts for supply of goods to the Museum and teh Zoo, Public Works Department stores and workshops as wellas hospitals, dispensaries, municipalities, garages and stables.  The ruling princes of the time encouraged Cutchi Memons in many ways, being convinced of their honesty.  They lauded their prompt services to the state in times of peril and need when they served the people by obtaining food grains from outside the state when there was a shortage.

The first four Cutchi Memon families to settle in Chalai near the palace were:

1. Haji Joonas Haji Osman Sait and Sons, who conducted the business of Chemists and Druggists, Government contractors and Palace suppliers,

2. Hajee Habeeb Sait, who conducted the business of Textiles, and Stationery supplies to Government departments,

3. Mohamed Haji Adam Sait, who was a merchant and commission agent of Bombay market, and

4. Ommer Hashim Sait, who was a merchant in wholesale textile goods, zinc and copper.

The above four families conducted their business peacefully and the ruling family gave them all encouragement. Their relationship with the ruling family was so cordial that they were invited to the palace for interviews often.

Cutchi Memons then organized their Jamath soon after they settled in Chalai.  The first Sait (Jamath Presdient so termed in those days) was Haji Joonas Haji Osman Sait.  The Presidentship of the Jamath was hereditary until very recently as was in other Jamaths in Alleppey, Cochin etc.  Haji Joonas Sait was followed by his son, Mohammed Joonis Sait and then his cousin, Sulaiman Haji Esmail Sait, and lastly by his son, Mohamed Yousuf Sulaiman Sait who left Trivandrum and settled in Cochin.  He has now returned to Trivandrum and is the Trustee of the Attakulangara Masjid constructed by his family.  The members did increase in numbers and began to settle in other parts of the town, i.e. Manacaud, Palayam, Thycaud, etc.  They were very religious, highly philanthropic.  Two separate funds were collected, one for the Jamath and the other for construction of masjids and madrassas. These were constructed at Manacaud, Attakulangara, Chalai, Palayam etc.  Four Cutchi Memons purchased a big plot for the purpose of members’ use as a burial ground opposite the Manacaud Masjid jointly, although there already was a burial ground attached to the masjid.  The plot used as burial ground now is in the name of the Cutchi Memon Jamath in the Revenue records, and the Jamath is paying land tax as follows:

Iranimutton Village - Survey No, 271

Thandaper No. - 8113

Area: 1 hectare 79 Ar.

Vakf Board Reg. No. B 7/3713/RA

The masjid at Attakulangara is another instance of generosity of Cutchi Memons. Mohamed Haji Joonis Sait bequeathed the property and constructed the masjid at Attakulangara.  Further, for the maintenance and for meeting the day-to-day expenses, he bequeathed another property at Chireyinkil, the income of which is utilized for the above purpose.  Mohamed Yousuf Sulaiman Sait who settled in Cochin for a short time is now the present trustee of this masjid.

The building and premises at Attakulangara where the Cutchi Memon Jamath, the Young Cutchi Memons' Association and Iqbal Library and reading Room are located was donated by the wife of Hajee Habeeb Sait for ht purpose of conducting a Madrassa.  There was a small masjid also in that compound which was demolished and a big single hall was constructed. A primary school was also started subsequently and grant was sanctioned by the Government for the V. P. School. All Muslim children were benefited.  The Koran teachers and Malayalam teachers taught the children in turn.  The son of an old lady was appointed as the Managing Trustee of the property, and the Manager of the Grants School After some time the institution was neglected by the descendants of the Trustee, and came into the possession of four persons who also did not take care of the school. The school was named "Muslim Matahchara Bhodini Malayalam School".

Gradually, the grant was stopped. At this stage, Haji Noor Mohamed Sait got the property in his possession from the four persons, and utilized it for the Jamatkhana and for storing the copper vessels and plates belonging to the Jamath.   The copper vessels were afterwards sold by tender.  The sale proceeds were deposited in a public account.  This amount was later used for constructing the present building, which is used for Iqbal Library and reading room and where meetings of teh Jamath and YCMA are held.  The old building where religious classes and Malayalam classes were held was recently demolished and the tenant who occupied part of the building has also been evicted. The ground in front of the Library is now vacant. The Jamath members and Association make suggestions for constructing a Jamatkhana.  Shadi Mahal and Shopping Complex.  Lacks of funds hinder the officer bearers.  The property is now under the control and possession of the Association

The President of the Jamath is elected periodically as against the hereditary succession in earlier times.  The following persons have been Presidents of the Jamath from time to time:

1. Abdul Sathat Dawood Sait

2. Essack Haji Mohamed Sait

3. Abdul Rahiman Abdul Sattar Sait

4. Mohammed Yoosuf Aboobacker Sait

5. Abdulla Adam Sait

6. Adam Abhamia Sait

7. A.S. Aboobacker Sait

8 S. Shamsuddin Sait (present Presdient)


Our population has increased considerably.  There are anew settlements form Quilon, Alleppey, Kayamkulam and Cochin.  Trade and industry has lessened among members these days.  Our trading community has now switched to government jobs and private sector.  There has been much progress in education.  A good number of graduates and postgraduates are among the young generation.  There are doctors, engineers, accountants, etc. Many young men have gone to the Persian Gulf and Arabian countries for employment.  Our female members have also qualified themselves as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

- Dr. J.M. Ismail Sait
Trivandrum

{This report was published in the All India Cutchi Memon Federation’s souvenir published in 1993 on the occasion of the World Conference.  It is hoped that the Cutchi Memon Jamath of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) will send us an updated report soon.
- Arif G. Kadwani}


Information courtesy: Arif G. Kadwani, Cutchi Memon Jamat of North America

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