Marwaris in tricity
Known for their entrepreneurial spirit, Marwaris are gloating over their Chandigarh gamble that paid off. When nobody considered the city to be a tempting avenue for commerce or industry, members of this community, with roots in Rajasthan, packed their bags in the late 50s and arrived in the then developing City Beautiful.
Today, nearly 5,000 Marwaris are spread out in the tricity and feel at home here. Most families speak their mother tongue Marwari at home and all community functions. Shanti Lal Sethia, who was an eight-year-old boy when his family came to the city in 1958, says the Marwari families here have grown socially and financially with Chandigarh and the two satellite towns of Panchkula and SAS Nagar. “We now have many well-known Marwari families here. Besides, many construction workers here are from Rajasthan. Our family is now in its third generation. We feel at home here,” says Sethia, an industrialist and president of Chandigarh's Rajasthan Parishad.
The main festivals of the community are Holi Dahan, Diwali Milan and Haryali Teej. For Marwaris in Chandigarh, the festival is more about dishes and wearing jewellery. During Haryali Teej, which falls in the month of August, the community arranges for finest of cooks, so the festivities match those in Rajasthan. They ensure that ghewar, a sweet prepared from wheat flour, and sitafal firni, a custard-apple sweet dish, are prepared well in advance.
Holika Dahan, which is celebrated on the eve of Holi, is another important festival of the community. An effigy made out of cow dung is burnt to mark the triumph of good over evil. The Chandigarh administration allotted land in Sector 33 to the community in 1978, where they built Rajasthan Bhawan, which, with a front facade in Rajasthani architecture, is a sight to behold in its own right.
Ram Chander Swami, who came to Chandigarh in the late 50s and is a prominent realtor, says the community's willingness to take risk and start doing business in Chandigarh when it was in its nascent stages of development described the Marwari spirit of entrepreneurship. “But the city has been a strong pillar of support for us. Most of our people here are successful in their trades.”
Next: Kumaon community
Know the community
Main festivals: Holika Dahan, Diwali Milan, Haryali Teej
Food: Dal baati churma, gatte ki sabzi, ker sangri, bhuna kukda, ghewar, sitafal firni
Where they meet: All community functions are organised at Rajasthan Bhawan in Sector 33. The community is also teaching Rajasthani folk dance at the bhawan for the 30 years now.
Language: Marwari, a Rajasthani dialect
Prominent Marwaris in Chandigarh
RK Saboo, chairman, Kamla Dials and Devices Limited
Shantilal Sethia, chairman, Sethia Group of Industries
Satish Bagrodia, chairman and managing director of Winsome Textile Industries Limited
Ram Chander Swami, Chandigarh-based realtor
200 grams Plain flour (maida)
1 tbsp cornflour
1/4 cup ghee
a few drops kewda essence
For sugar syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
For the sugar syrup
Combine sugar and water in a pan and simmer till it reaches consistency
Remove from heat and keep warm
How to proceed
* Combine the flour, cornflour and melted ghee in a bowl.
* Add 1 cup of water in a thin stream, whisking continuously taking care to see that an emulsion is formed and water and ghee do not separate
* Add 2 more cups of water while whisking. At no point should the ghee and water separate
* Keep the batter in a cool place away from the heat.
* Place the ghevar mould in a kadhai and pour melted ghee in it till it reaches 3/4 of the height of the mould
* Place the batter into a small bowl and place it near the gas range
* Heat the ghee on medium flame and put in one spoonful of batter into the mould in thin stream. The batter should settle in the mould
* When the froth subsides, pour in another spoonful in the centre in a thin stream
* Repeat seven times making a hole in the centre of the ghevar using a wooden skewer stick. Pour the batter into this centre each time
* Increase the flame and allow it to cook in the centre by pouring ladlefuls of hot ghee in the centre of the mould 2 or 3 times
* When the centre is firm and cooked, pull the ghevar out gently, by inserting a wooden skewer in the centre and pulling it out of the ghee
* Immerse in sugar syrup, drain quickly and place on a serving plate