Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah is an unknown person in today’s Metiabruz

Metiabruz of today would have been an unknown place if Nawab Wajid Ali Shah wasn’t exiled here. Metiabruz at present in Garden Reach, once used to be an isolated piece of land adjacent to the Hoogly River. It was mainly used by the traders of East India Company as their relaxation spot between their trade ventures by sea route. Wild dogs and fox in large numbers inhabited the place at that time. Humans mostly include the robbers who were known as thangare (those who robbed innocent people after killing them by beating with large bamboo sticks).

It was only after 1856, when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah the then Nawab of Oudh, Lucknow was exiled in Metiabruz by the British Government, this place transformed dramatically. Just like the other contemporary Nawabs, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was also a very sophisticated person fond of traditional poetry, music, singing, dance and painting. His daily chore in Kaisarbagh Baradari, Oudh was filled with extravagance, pomp and show. The nawab with heavy heart bore the pain of parting from his royal haveli in Kaisarbagh.

But a true nawab at heart, for him it was impossible to stay away even one day from dance and music. So he brought along with him Hindustani classical musicians and baijis (court dancers) to Metiabruz. It should be mentioned here that the name Metiabruz meant fort made from mud (in Urdu matia mean mud and bruz mean fort). Soon his royal house in Metiabruz started to bustle with activity, Awadhi language, art, music, dance, singing, poetry, smell of atar (fragrance made from flowers) and opulent style of living. He invited the best singers and dancers from other parts of India to Metiabruz to entertain his guests that also include the East India Company officials who banished him from Oudh.

With an intention to create a similar Lucknow in Metiabruz where his people would live happily along with him he
went ahead to create a zoo in Metiabruz, the first of its kind in Eastern India. This zoo spread across acres of land had different species of animals besides expensive and exotic birds brought from various parts of India, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, England etc. With the passage of time this vast area of zoo has been totally engulfed by the Hoogly River.

His another major contribution to today’s Metiabruz is the introduction of Hindustani darjees or tailors. At that period of time there were very few tailors in Bengal who had the artistic skill and concept to match the talent of these Hindustani darjees from Lucknow. Gradually, these darjees became so famous in Bengal that they started getting orders from Bengali zamindars, babus and even British officers. As time passed on holding the hands of these skilful darjees, Metiabruj became one of the prominent centres of fashionable garment making in Eastern India. Now around 56% of the total youth in Metabruz is into the business of garment manufacturing. Bulk shipment of garment produced from Metiabruz is now sent to neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka every month.

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s love for kite and pigeons also made a contribution to Metiabruz’s economy. His love for large and unique kite was immense. So he encouraged innovative kite makers in his time. Following this tradition, at present
kite making is a profitable business here, in which large number of youth is involved. Interestingly, kite is now exported to various parts of the world from Metibruz now.
Historically also Metiabruz got its due importance holding the hands of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah when the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray created Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) in 1977.

But unfortunately, the manner in which the charm and splendour of the old Metiabruz has melted, in a similar manner the people of Metiabruz has also easily forgot the
name of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. All that remains of the 31 years that the nawab had spent at Metiabruz is a sprawling Imambara and a private mosque (the Shah Masjid) that he built ten years after arriving here.


Harneet Singh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harneet Singh said...

Excellent work. Keep up the good work. Very informative post.
You can also visit my another philosophical blog

Unknown said...

excellent article. am particularly interested in the introduction of tailoring in metiaburj by the nawab. would like to know more. wil the author be kind enough to guide me on this?

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