For quite some time I have been thinking of doing a ‘wholesome’ search on Multanis… whatever I know about our caste, community and language… it is thanks to my parents and grand parents… although I can understand multani to an extent… speaking in multani makes me sound like an alien. It is time now for multanis in India to come together and spread the rich culture that we belong time (beside ofcourse learning the language which my mom says is relatively easy). Although Parsi community as they say is diminishing… then what will I say about Multanis… I wonder what’s the total multani head count in india is!
Well… coming back to the ‘wholesome’ research that I did on the Internet about Multanis in India… this is what it yielded … nice article which was published in the TOI couple of years ago… it brings back memory of those days in school and college when the world used to think that I am either Sikh or mona sikh or hindu-punjabi
Punjabis, but not quite Punjabi
Multanis? But aren’t they same as Sindhis? That’s not an uncommon reaction. For the record, Multan is not a part of Sindh but of Punjab in Pakistan. Hear them chat and you realise where this misconception comes from: a slight nasal twang combined with a crisp dialect.
Listen carefully and you’ll find that Multani is much closer to Punjabi. Indeed, the Multanis’ greater dread today is to have their identities confused with the larger mass of Punjabis. Multanis like to be known as what they are: Multanis.
Being one is as much about language and festivals as about cuisine, especially sohan halwa (a delicacy made from germinated wheat flour, milk and sugar) and mukand vadis .
Even today, Multani women keep their own version of the popular Punjabi karva chauth. ‘‘In Multan my mother used to keep a fast for my father on Gur Purab. I still follow the tradition,’’ says Savitri Narula, married into a Punjabi family.
Like making Multani delicacies. So karva chauth also becomes the time the younger generations of Multanis get to taste some of their best traditional dishes: a special kind of meethi roti baked over low fire and rali-mili subzi, a spicy mix of seven vegetables.
A lot of Multani culture obviously remains in their kitchens and Multanis proudly declare that malpuas are not made in Punjabi homes. And while kachori is as common in Varanasi or Indore as in Amritsar or Multan, moong-chawal or moth-chawal are not to be got anywhere in Punjab.
The children, now in their 20s and 30s, are just as cosmopolitan as their next-door Tamil or Bengali neighbours. And unlike what people believe, they are not businessmen — another legacy of that Sindhi twang. There are as many doctors, engineers, fashion designers, MBAs, IT professionals among the Multanis as among the new-age Gujaratis or Andhrites. When the Multanis who fled Pakistan came to Delhi, a lot of them did get into business.
A large number of them settled in Paharganj where they were given compensation land. Even today, if you visit the dusty bylanes of Multani Dhanda you will see a good example of how a small part of Punjab that is not quite Punjabi retains its character. This is where you find some of the refugees who still run small shops that sell Multani delicacies.
But most people in the community have moved on. The only other concentration would be in Multan Nagar, a housing colony on the outskirts of Delhi. A larger number, however, can be found in posher, more central areas.
Edited to Add: New space on Multanis Worldwide!