The ‘roadies’: This Ferozepur truckers’ village has been putting its shoulders to the wheels
Trucking is not all about livelihood for the villagers who are celebrating the anniversary of local saint Bhagat Duni Chand who blessed their forefathers with success in this business, as the local legend goes.punjab Updated: Mar 05, 2018 09:39 IST
Every family in Ferozepur district’s Mahian Wala Kalan, known as the truckers’ village that has nearly 500 households, owns at least one truck. Located on the Bathinda-Amritsar highway in Zira subdivision, the village with a population of 2,000 has nearly 600 trucks in all.
But trucking is not all about livelihood for the villagers who are celebrating the anniversary of local saint Bhagat Duni Chand who blessed their forefathers with success in this business, as the local legend goes. Duni Chand died in the 1960s.
The first truck in village
There are two claims the locals make about the first truck that came to the village. Sukhdev Singh, better known as Sukhdev Panni, said his grandfather Gura Singh and his brother Bachan Singh brought the first truck (registration number PNF–8011) to the village in 1964.
On the other hand, Kamaljit Singh Brar says it was his grandfather Gurdial Singh and his brother Nachttar Singh who bought the first truck in the 1970s. He said they earlier had a bull cart for bringing goods from the towns to the village but later went on to buy a truck after Bhagat Duni Chandi blessed them.
The locals say their trucks normally ply on the Punjab-Gujarat-Guwahati-Punjab route.
The faith factor
The villagers have a firm belief that it was Bhagat Duni Chand’s blessings that made them successful in trucking business. Every year, they make contributions to celebrate the anniversary function spanning over two weeks from February 14 to March 2. A kabaddi tournament is also organized at the village in his memory.
Since the 1960s, they have been taking out ‘nagar kirtan’, a religious procession, on trucks or tractor-trolleys.
Karan Brar, who lives in Vancouver, Canada, and is on India visit for a couple of months, says all of them make it a point not to miss the anniversary function. At least one member of families who have migrated to Canada comes to attend the anniversary, he says.
“Anyone from Mahian Wala Kalan or even the Zira area buys a new truck they first pay obeisance at Bhagat Duni Chand’s shrine. As many as 52 families from Mahian Wala Kalan are living in Vancouver and most of them are into trucking business. We celebrate the anniversary in May-June there,” he says.
He said the locals and NRIs have opened a girls’ college after Bhagat Duni Chand at the village and nearly 250 students are enrolled there.
Congress MLA from the Zira segment, Kulbir Singh Zira, says Mahian Wala Kalan has the highest number of trucks among all villages in the state.
3rd generation’s love for wheels
Around 70-80 per cent of the truck owners had their grandfathers into the business. Gurwinder Singh, 28, said that he loves the trucking profession and himself drives the vehicle along with his driver. The villagers said they have made a large parking space for their trucks to avoid any hassle. We have left open space near our houses or in farms for parking of truck, a local says.
The village is an example of social cohesion where no caste barrier exists. Shamsher Singh, husband of the village sarpanch who is a Dalit, says the upper caste people took guarantees of loans their community members availed to buy trucks.
Sukhdev Singh alias Panni Gill, a Jat Sikh, runs trucking business in partnership with Iqbal Singh, a Dalit. They have about 10 trucks of which Iqbal owns three trucks.
Love for numbers
There are seven-eight large trucking operators in the village who are known from the last two numbers on their vehicles. For instance, the Kamaljit Brar group is known for number 25, the Harbans Singh group for 49, Pavittar Singh for 72 and Sukhdev Singh alias Panni for 97.
Jaswant Singh, owner of Namdev Finance in Zira says even women share love for trucks. Bhano, better known as Bhua Bhano also owns two trucks.