Genealogical records of Bihar natives to be preserved by US based society
Under focus has been Panjis, the genealogical records of Maithil Brahmins and Karna Kayasthas who belong mostly to areas like Darbhanga-Madhubani, bordering districts of the state and from the Terai region of Nepal.Updated: Dec 12, 2018 08:46 IST
The US based Genealogical Society of Utah has been working to preserve the genealogical records of Bihar natives. It is assumed these genealogical records may interest some demographers, sociologists, historians, economists, and geneticists and may prove for them a potential source of information for historical demographic research.
Under focus has been Panjis, the genealogical records of Maithil Brahmins and Karna Kayasthas who belong mostly to areas like Darbhanga-Madhubani, bordering districts of the state and from the Terai region of Nepal.
Microfilms of over five lakh leaves of Panjis have already been created. A team of the GSU which visited the Mithila and Nepal Terai region, collected these details from 47 Panjikaars or the custodians of genealogical records from 28 villages of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Supaul, Araria, Purnia and Katihar and from Nepal.
In next phase the Utah Genealogical Society will be working on digitisation and documentation of the family records maintained by the Pandas of Gaya and of Deoghar in Jharkhand.
The GSU in Salt Lake City in Utah (US) maintains the world’s largest collection of historical records, which may be used for historical demographic research. The organisation began microfilming records of genealogical importance in 1938. Its Family Search segment has a vast collection of these images from more than 100 nations.
“In Bihar the GSU worked for 10 years. We visited various villages in Darbhanga-Madhubani and in the areas located on Indo- Nepal borders, contacted the Panjikaars and persuaded them to allow micro filming of the family details they had in their collection,” said Kailash Chandra Jha, former official from the American Embassy, who has worked on this project.
Jha said each of these Panjikaars of Mithila had a collection of 20,000 to 25,000 leaves of Panjis. Most of these were written on Basaha Kaagaz or paper created of bamboo leaves. And in absence of preservation and maintenance, the pages had become pale and brittle. Even a slight touch could damage the page and there would have been permanent loss of information.
“Even then people were not ready for their micro filming. In fact, once these records used to be the source of their livelihood. With the growing popularity of inter caste and inter religion marriages, these have lost relevance for most of the families and so the Panjikaars have lost their clients. Panjikaars are now facing severe financial crisis and have shifted to other professions and have dumped the source materials to some corner of the house. We convinced them that these need to be preserved and that micro filming would preserve family records,” Jha said.
The team had been able to create microfilms of the details of over five lakh families, which are now preserved at the GSU while their positive copies have been submitted to the National Archives, he added.
“Those who want to feel its importance should talk to the Biharis who migrated to Mauritius, Fiji and other countries centuries ago. They are now desperate to find out information about their ancestors and their native places,” Jha said.