Sunday 18 August 2013



Marwari migration to Calcutta started in 1830. They formed a Panchayat to handle quarrels and maintain discipline in the community. The first migrants to Calcutta seem to have hitched rides as super cargos aboard river boats at Mirzapur in East-Uttar Pradesh. Many marwaris came and started their career first at Calcutta but in search of better fortune they further migrated from Calcutta to the country side.

The basic reason for such further migration might be the fact that Calcutta was a cosmopolitan city where there was a keen competition among various merchant communities, apart from the fact that Bengali business entrepreneurs had been very well established in Calcutta at that time. 

The first Marwari firms in calcutta date from before 1857. It was only in the 1870’s that we get a sense of the Marwari’s arriving in Calcutta in large numbers. Until 1860’s the trade of Calcutta was with Bengali and to a lesser extent in Khatri and North Indian bania hands. 

Slowly starting 1880’s, the marwaris started replacing Khatris and Bengalis as banians to British firms. By the turn of the century the list of invitations to the Viceroy’s Leeves published in the newspapers show a sizable group of Marwaris and only one or two KhatrisBy 1911, the Calcutta Marwari population was 15,000 and that in Bihar, Orissa, Bengal and Assam was 75,000. 

This co-indices with discovery of synthetic Indigo Dye by German chemical company BASF. First discovered in 1878 its industrial scale production in 1897. Before its invention plant based Indigo cultivated in Bengal was the only source of blue dye. Bengali businessmen particularly had a majority stake in trade of Indigo. A notable Bengali bhadralok Dwarkanath Tagore (father of Rabindranath Tagore) had an important stake in its trade. 

Among early Calcutta Marwari migrants is Seth Nathuram Saraf who was full of feeling for his caste fellows and opened up a basa for marwari migrants in which they could stay free of charge. He facilitated further migration, especially from his hometown of Mandawa. He became the 1st Marwari BanianIn Sutapatti, Mandawa stores were numerous in comparision to other cities, there were once 45 cloth shops from Mandawa, specializing in the fine melmel variety of cloth.

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