Sait clan: The Unique Identity of Memons, Sindh

Historically, Kutch was a princely state and this kingdom involved the Bhuj, Anjar, Lakhpath, Mandvi, etc. The Kutchi Memons are now spread all over the globe with concentrated population in the areas of Mumbai, Pune, Mysore, Bangalore, Sindh, Chennai, Kochi, Coonoor, Trivandrum, Quilon, Kayamkulam, Alleppey and Ooty. Kutchi Memons have this distinctive surname SAIT (for men) and BAI (for women).Of course there are Saits among Punjabis too. Bai is a usual appellation in northern India for women in high position e.g. Rani Lakshmi Bai. The first families that migrated, initially, to Travancore (now central and south Kerala) were called Sett, a vulgarization of the appellation Seth or Saith – rich man- by the Tamil oriented Travancoreans. The title got further skewed, phonetically; by the Turkish oriented Pathans then in administration to Sait (one can find Saits in Turkey). Sait then became a surname for them and their kids. They spread from Travancore to other States, though a few families joined them straightly from Kutch afterwards. After independence many families migrated from Kutch to Pakistan (Sindh province); but migration from South India was very insignificant, and whoever shifted retained the title Sait and are understood to be migrants through South. Kutchi Memons have mostly been in business, ranging from large trading houses down to road side hawkers, but with the new generation this trend is changing.The community has a very modern outlook and most individuals are educated. The community is very peculiar about its unique identity and in some pockets marriage outside the community is still looked upon unkindly, though in Kerala nearly 95 % of Memons can no longer claim pure blood – at least three generations have crossed with native Muslims. The written Language had been Gujarathi for long, migrants into Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra speak Urdu but it is slowly changing from Urdu to regional languages; change to Malayalam in Kerala is practically complete though Kutchi is still understood by a sizeable population. The local languages are used for written communication even among members of the clan in Kerala and Urdu in other states.

The size of the population can’t be determined due to its deficiency of concentration but estimations would put their number close to 0.5 million people. The community follows all the basic Sunni-Hanafi path Islamic tradition but with somewhat different practices remnant of the old Kutchi traditions modified by local customs.

 

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