Introduction

The Brahma Kshatriya Community (BKC) of Hyderabad is a community that has moved into Hyderabad as early as the 1700s and one that has managed to preserve its identity for centuries in the diverse religious and ethnic landscape of the Char-Kamaans of Old City and new Hyderabad and thrived as a progressive one to the present day. Primarily employed in the bureaucracy of the erstwhile Nizam, the monarch of Hyderabad State, in the professions of medicine, law, banking, and education in the pre- and post-independence India, the community has expanded its presence primarily in Hyderabad but also outside of it.

As a community before, during and after independence, it had and still has progressive ideals of supporting education, going beyond traditions to strictly enforce the abolishment of the marriage dowry and thriving in the geography that was not fully home to them. BKC is a community of diasporas of north India in the south back that migrated from areas of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujrat.

The community was a group of families that came together in the 1800s and set up a formal structure to associate with each other and live together. In the background to their lives is the notion of nation building, modernity and an overall progressive outlook that came to lay the foundations of what the community is today.

A collage of recently collected items

The above picture holds some images from the community. From bottom right, anti-clockwise, the first is the image of a paraath or a plate (here it is made of brass) and has the inscription that reads “Shaadi Eknath Pershad nehera Nand Lal” meaning “at the wedding of Eknath Pershad who is the grandson of Nand Lal”. The second is a panchaang belonging to Dilsukh Ram and it is from his diary. The third picture up is of a poem about the community members written by a student of Mufeed Ul Annam School, set up by this community. The next picture to the left is picture is of a necklace made of Basraa pearls and precious stones and is called the Tanmani or Tanmaniyaan laid on top of a Banaarsi sari and the last picture is a choker made of the similar materials.

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Malini Waghray is the principal investigator of this project titled: A Micro History in Hyderabad: The Brahma Kshatriyas. Dr. Hema Malini Waghray is a sociologist and her work focuses on people, their contexts, their stories and social underpinnings which bring richness to them. According to her, sociology has provided a way to simultaneously see her community with admiration and a studied skepticism: skepticism to identify failures in a social setting and admiration to fathom that this social setting can be highlighted for others to look at.

As a UX researcher, she has been the director of Code for Princeton, a Code for America brigade where she worked on projects involving the municipality, volunteer groups and software developers to make products for the Princeton community on civic-tech issues of affordable housing, safe-bike lanes and unemployment. She was awarded the best teacher award as an adjunct instructor at Sussex County Community College, Newton, NJ.

Thanks are due to the members of the community in Hyderabad and United States for sharing their stories and adding value to this project via interviews, suggestions and advice.

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