Some countries never change
Tquite familiar with the presence of expatriate Indians in large numbers in the Islamic countries of West Asia. Naturally, a large proportion of the repatriates comprise of Hindus.
That, in 1940 itself, there had been a precedent for such a presence may come as something of a surprise to our readers today. More so, when those Hindus were reported to have been present in Arabia for some centuries then!
Extracts from a communication sent to this newspaper by Shri T.S. Vinayaka Rao, an advocate of Madras:
Hindus in Arabia
?At this juncture, when the war threatens to spread to the Near East, it will be interesting to learn that a community of people who are Hindus, and who are idol-worshippers, have been existing in Arabia for several centuries. They live surrounded by Muslim tribes.
?This Hindu community, which is well-organised, almost on the patterns of a little tribal state, was originally under the rule of Turkey. But, after the Great War of 1914, it came to be held under the mandate of France…
?The people of the above Hindu community speak Arabic, and they call themselves the ?Durjas?. Their full name in Arabic is ?Davil Dal Duruj? which means ?people of the Durja?.
?The Durjas are divided into two notable classes, one group comprises those who wear the orthodox tuft, and those who do not do so. Those who do not wear the tuft are in greater number… The Durjas are worshippers of Siva and Ganapati and they have idols installed in temples for their worship. Some of their shrines are actually built very much on the lines of Hindu temples in India. Many others have adopted the pattern of mosques. Whatever the construction of the shrines, they all have priests who perform sequences or rituals including that of arati.
?The religious books of the Durjas are found to be in Arabic script. They are written in the form of poetical lines and the priests have committed most of the books to their memory. Both the men and the women have modelled themselves on the Arab tribes and therefore display extremely war-like qualities and manners. Hence, repeated efforts over several centuries to convert them to Islam have failed. Similarly, strenuous efforts by the Muslims to exterminate them altogether have also been frustrated… A significant difference marking the Durjas out is the refusal of their women to wear purdah. The survival of this freedom from their ancient Hindu origins is another surprising fact.?
(Courtesy: The Hindu, August 5, 1990)