Mera Gaav Bahirwali (An essay about My Village Bahirwali)
By Shahida Khan
[article first appeared in The Desert Times | Dated 27 November 1997]
It is like I am writing an English essay as my homework. Mr. Editor is my teacher and I am his student. Anyway I had never thought I would write something on my village.
The name of my village is “Bahirwali”. It may sound something different. There is reason why my ancestors had named this village Bahirwali. Many, many years back my village was called “Chouglewadi” because everybody who lived in there had Chougle as their surnames. But as the story goes five centuries back one night a holy person in my village had a dream but did not give a deep thought to it. Second night same things was repeated, he did a little thinking to it.
Third night again he had the same dream. A man was coming in his dreams and saying my name is Ibrahim Sheikh, I was a Mujahedeen of Islam and for some reason I dies in the name of Allah. My body is lying at the sides of your village on a tiny island Diva in the flowing river.
The body has to be buried at the hilltop of your village touching the river flowing through the island Diva. Next morning the holy man called Moulana gathered a few good men from the village told them about the dream and went to the said spot. And there was a body lying on banana leaves in the flowing river. It was amazing how the body did not flow away or sink in the water as the body was there for three days. Well as told he was buried on the hilltop.
People in the village got curious after this incident and decided to make an inquiry about the person called Ibrahim Sheikh and to know from where he came from.
How it is named as Bahirwali
After a lot of search they came to know that they were seven brothers who had come from far away to spread Islam in the Konkan; reason: not that people were not Muslims there, but to spread more knowledge about Islam and Hadith. Among the seven brothers I know the names of a few:
1. Balepir who is buried at the village called Nawshah near Dabhol.
2. Aakut Khan Shahwali who is buried Khopoli the upper region of Marathwada.
3. Fakirruddin Shahwali, buried at a village named Sawnas.
4. Ibrahim Sheikh buried at my village Bahirwali.
After Ibrahim Sheikh was buried at the hilltop of my village it was believed that Chouglewadi started to prospering and happiness as all around so people decided to change the name of the village from Chouglewadi to Bahirwali – because he was from somewhere outside who landed our at village. Bahirwali means Saint from Outside (Bahir = Outside, Wali = Saint). There is a house like structure over his grave called the Dargah. Every year they have Urs and also some people remember him in their happiness and climb the 2 to 3 hours hilltop to visit the Dargah.
O! Boy!! It was a long story indeed just to explain the name of my village. Now let me tell you the beauty of Bahirwali. It is situated on the hills, river flowing at the foot of the mountains, the river that flows comes from Koyna River connecting Jugburi River and Washisti River to the tiny island of Diva flowing across all the villages meeting the Arabian Sea and flowing across the world.
Houses surrounded by gardens...
There are many, many villages at the two sides of the flowing river. My village is very beautiful with greenery all around, farms, wells, huge houses surrounded with bagh (gardens) (with all kinds of fruits and flowers). There are jhurnas (waterfalls) flowing from the mountains, cows and buffaloes are at the back yard of every house. There are nice houses build for these animals. There are goats and chickens running around everywhere. Every breath is of fresh and sweet air, fresh water from the well is so sweet and tasty.
Cooking is done on mud stoves with woodblocks in the mud vessel. The food cooked so is very tasty and out of the world. Modern gas cylinders are available but people still prefer the mud stoves with firewood. Even now people live in huge houses as joint families. Morning starts before 5 in the morning in the village. First tea pot lands on the mud stoves, then women go to milk the cows; eggs are brought in from the chickens. Everybody is up. House maids too tend to their work and bring waters from the well.
Delicious breakfast is served. Kids go to small school inside the village. A few decades ago, the languages spoken and written in there was in modi and Urdu. Now only Urdu is being used. There is a mosque, one small shop, one flourmill and a small doctor’s clinic. If people need more than this, then they have to go to the city that is Chiplun or Khed. There is another doctor across the river in a village called Maldoli. My great-grand parents lived in that village.
Short video of Urs at Bahirwali No 1 (by Wasim)
Major Mohallas - Bahirwali No.1, 2 & 3
My village is biggest in that surrounding. The village is divided into 3 major mohallas. They are named, Bahirwali No 1, Bahirwali No 2 & Bahirwali No 3. The walis (saints) grave is at No 1, my dad’s house is at No 2, and my mother’s native is at No 3. There are six to seven buses plying every day in and out of the village. Besides buses, there is a boat (manually run), a motor boat services to go across the river and launch services to travel to far away villages through the river. Sometimes people still go walking to the neighbouring villages. In the villages it is like everybody is related to everybody. They are like family always supporting each other.
Fruits and vegetables are grown in the farms season-wise. Once fishing was done in the river, but now due to pollution from the chemical factories on the other side of the river, the fishing has stopped. Now fishes are brought from outside of our village. During summary, among several fruits, the mango is the most popular fruit grown in the village. Specially the alphonso mango! And every where you can find jackfruits!!
It is amazing how I know so much about my village. I never lived in my own village. I visit my village once a year on my summer vacation – and spend time there for a few days. It was like a hill station for me. I am happy I had known my village so much – despite having spent very little time there. My dad will be happy to know that.
I am sure everybody has a place where they can relate to their ancestors. As for me there is lot to say but I guess I should stop here. May be next time...
Bahirwali is a village in Ratnagiri Village, Maharashtra, India