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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Cosmo culture: For Himachalis, city a home away from home

Rameshinder Singh Sandhu , Hindustan Times  Amritsar, November 13, 2013
First Published: 00:16 IST(13/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:19 IST(13/11/2013)

For scores of people hailing from Himachal Pradesh, Amritsar is a home away from home.

While many Himachalis have been residing in the city even before statehood was conferred upon Himachal Pradesh in 1971, many others followed suit in search of better job opportunities.

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Though Himachalis are spread across the city and in neighboring areas such as Beas, Chheratta, Tarn Taran, besides faraway border villages such as Khasa, Kangra Colony at Batala Road is the biggest residential hub of the Himachal community.

But what brought Himachalis to Amritsar and other parts of Punjab?

"Better job avenues, lucrative employment offers and inclement weather turned Himachalis towards Amritsar," said members of the Himachal Kalyan Sabha, which came into existence in 1996.
The HP Bhavan, or sabha as the community members call it, is located near the Amritsar Canal on the GT Road.

The organisation members also run a homeopathic dispensary in Kangra Colony where patients are treated free of cost.

Jagdish Chander Sharma, chairman of the sabha, who arrived in the city in 1939, told HT: "We hold meetings every month where we discuss issues related to our community. We also resolve disputes, if any, among different families of our community."

"We also provide financial assistance to under-privileged families for their daughters' marriages," he added.

Talking of Amritsar, Sharma said, "We have turned into Punjabis. We celebrate Punjabi festivals, enjoy Punjabi cuisines and have adopted a Punjabi lifestyle. We discuss our towns and villages whenever community members meet at functions and annual events."

On the professional front, the community members are running bakeries, sweet shops, milk products shops, factories, newspaper agencies etc.

One of the famous sweet shops in the city, 'Munim Di Hatti,' opened in the early sixties and is located on the Lawrence Road.

Likewise, 'Western Bakery' on GT Road is also one of the oldest bakeries in Amritsar. Many Himachalis also own educational institutions in the city.

Amar Jyoti Senior School, GT Road, was started more than 25 years ago and is owned by a Himachali family.

A large number of Himachalis are also employed as chefs and waiters in different hotels of the city.

"We have many employees from Himachal Pradesh. They are dedicated people and believe in hard work," said Tejas Lakhani, human resource manager, Holiday Inn.

Talking about his community, Rana Suresh, general secretary of the sabha, said, "Our people have taken up every sort of work. Amritsar is our second home. But Himachal has witnessed development in several areas. Lesser people are migrating to Punjab now. But Himachalis share a warm bond with Punjabis. A majority of our relatives are settled here."

"Though Amritsar is a tourist destination, tourism sector is yet to receive a boost unlike Himachal," he added.

Echoing a similar view, sabha president Shaktipal Sidhav, said, "Himachal has great tourism potential. Bollywood actresses Preity Zinta and Kangana Ranaut also hail from Himachal."

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