Bohras of Bhabra - the small town community for whom a PM stopped

For any town to have their country’s Prime Minister visit is something of a momentous occasion but for the small town of Bhabra in Madhya Pradesh, the passing through of Sri Narendra Modi was truly historic. Mr Modi became the first incumbent Prime Minister to visit the town when he arrived on August 9th to pay tribute to one of India’s most prominent freedom fighters.

Along with all the other residents the Dawoodi Bohras of Bhabra were not going to allow this occasion to go without ceremony; they turned out in large numbers to greet the Prime Minister.

Compiled from and deshgujarat:

Bhabra (Madhya Pradesh): Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Madhya Pradesh to pay tribute to freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad on the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement. Modi was on his way to Bhabra, the birthplace of the martyr. As the convoy approached it was met by a large number of Bohras lined up along the road. The nearer the cars got the more intense became the chant of ‘Modi, Modi’.

Modi did not disappoint the onlookers. Seeing their enthusiasm and cheer, he decided to defy protocol and get down from his car. The Prime Minister greeted the senior members of the community in a warm manner and waved at others who were raising slogans in his support.

They offered him a shawl which he readily accepted.

This impromptu act by Modi cannot be termed photo-op politics, as there were no media personnel around to film the scene. It was only a day later that this news broke out, when a member of the Bohra community uploaded a video of Modi’s arrival and his interaction with their senior community member.

Modi is the first Prime Minister to visit Bhabhra.

The Dawoodi Bohras of Bhabra are almost all traders having around 200 shops even though they comprise just 130 households. Their customer base is primarily the rural dwellers of the nearby villages. The goodwill of the shop keepers and their sheer number means that in the event that the Bohras’ shops are closed the whole market seems a bit dull.

Schooling is a challenge for the local population which numbers around 20,000 overall. With no local English medium school they face the choice of local Hindi medium schools or a 40km each way journey to the city of Dohad. For community members the Bohra jamaat has recently trained 6 ladies to operate a nursery which is currently in its first year of operation.

Last year, on the 15-16th of Shawwal 1436 AH (July 2015) Syedna Mufaddal SaifuddinTUS became the first da`i to stay overnight in Bhabra when he arrived for the inauguration of their newly rebuilt masjid. The masjid was reconstructed by the community with significant assistance from the International Taalebaat ul Mumenaat (worldwide Bohra female college and university student body) under the leadership of Shahzadi Husaina baisaheba – sister to Syedna Saifuddin. The masjid’s chandeliers were designed especially for the masjid by the shahzadi herself.

The Bohras of Bhabra are keenly committed to their community and its religious and social events.