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Gujarati community in Kochi include followers of both Hindu and Jain religion, who migrated from Kutch and other areas in Gujarat.
According to a directory dated 2009 published by the Kochi Gujarati Mahajan, there were 650 Gujarati families in Mattancherry alone.
It is difficult to ascertain the actual period in which their migration might have happened. However, according to the oral accounts, the earliest migration took place when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Gujarat in the 12th century. Some are of the opinion that it was a prolonged drought that had force them to migrate. As a plethora of droughts have wreaked havoc on Gujarat during the course of history it is difficult to identify the actual period.
According to the directory of Gujarati Mahajan it was in 1815 that the actual influx of Gujaratis started. As the British East India company lost the monopoly of trade in the Indian subcontinent in the early part of the 19th century more and more British businessmen came to India and to Kochi.
The Gujarati community also reached Kochi along with them as business partners and middlemen. Since then the Gujaratis made Kochi their home. The Gujarati street in Kochi, with all its sweet shops and Mandirs is a cross section of Gujarat. Over the years the community has made commendable contributions to Kochi. Be it educational institutions, theatres, pepper stock exchange, the earliest printing press in the area, the pioneering spirit of the Gujaratis is still very much evident in Kochi.
PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION BY BIJU IBRAHIM: COMMUNITIES OF KOCHI
Places have souls and Mattancherry in the city of Kochi has a mystic one. Biju Ibrahim discovered this while documenting the lives of Kochi’s 38 communities through black and white pictures. Distinct in layers of identities – caste, faith, language, ethnicity and region – these communities have been welcomed over centuries and have, in turn, infused Mattancherry and Kochi with a rare and rich heritage. Historically, it has been home to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus. The sea and port attracted sailors, traders from Arabia and Gujarat, preachers of Semitic faiths, colonisers such as the Dutch and Portuguese, political refugees and migrant labourers. A cross-section of India lives here in a radius of 5 kilometers.
He captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic & mystery of spaces & places, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before.
URU art harbour is a cultural hub situated at Kochi. URU seeks to be a space for collaboration and a continual hub for artistic, cultural, and intellectual exploration. Founded by Riyas Komu and Zoya Riyas.
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