Missing the Malabari Tea

By Dr. Sohail Ansari

Missing the Malabari Tea

The community of Mappilas, the Malabar Muslims, supported the invading military of Haider Ali in 1765. However, the British won the Mysore war against Tipu Sultan. The Mappilas did not gain any favours in the new rule and were reduced into a condition of destitution. As a consequence, a communal war or rebellion arose in 1921 from Malappuram district of North Kerala primarily against the British but included upper caste Hindu landlords. This was called Mappila Revolt. It lasted for about six months and was ultimately brutally crushed with a loss of 10000 lives. This led to a string of migrations. The first exodus of Mappilas from Kerala to Karachi, thus, took place in 1921.The Karachi chapter of Mappilas was born. However, most migrants were fit males who had left their families (wives and children) behind. They regularly visited Kerala, since their families did not migrate. They came with no assets but soon settled in their traditional businesses they were familiar with such as tea shops, timber, and textiles. Some ventured into import and export or even setting up biscuit factories in Karachi.I remember the Malabari Tea houses and the tea boys carrying kettles supplying tea to the stores in Saddar and elsewhere, kind of mobile tea shops. This community has largely lost its Malayalee identity now; few of the city’s Mappilas speak Malayalam. It is believed that about 6000 of them still remain in Karachi. Today most of this community is small-time owners of restaurants and shops. Yet another community at the verge of extinction in the large Metropolis.

May be an image of 3 people, people standing and indoor
May be an image of indoor

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
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2 Responses to Missing the Malabari Tea

  1. It was nice reading about the Muslims from Kerala who had strived to settled in Karachi. After the partition of India, there were few of these families who migrated to erstwhile East Pakistan and set up business. They have been extremely successful and at present companies like Rahim Afroze batteries, which now includes solar power generation, and chains of grocery giant stores all over the country.
    Being family friends which continued into my married life the families have grown stronger in bondage through marriage and friendship through the years.

  2. Nilufer Zafarullah says:

    My friend always told me that the Mappilas are a very small group of Muslims from North Kerala. Some of them have stayed back in Bombay till now. They stay were the place is called Malabar Hills.

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