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Baniya – a way of living

Upon typing “Baniya” in the search box of Google, one finds automatic results like:

  • Baniya gotra
  • Baniya jokes
  • Baniya caste
  • Baniya matrimony
  • Baniya deals

The business class community dominant in the northern region of Uttar Pradesh is widely made fun for the above but it is way beyond the generalization. The category majorly involves bankers, merchants, dealers, money-lenders, traders in spices and enterprise drivers. Baniyas are known for food, grand weddings, shrewdness and smart money management. Trust me, I have never seen a poor Baniya in my life. Nikhil Inamdar wrote a famous book – Rokda: How Baniyas Do Business. One of the quotes from the book goes like the following:

“Seven pillars make or kill a brand,’ says Goenka. ‘Packaging, pricing, product, promotion, distribution, advertising, and margins to retailers. We ensure there is equal focus on all these aspects.”

No wonder why Baniyas are a personification of chicness, agility, sharp mind, and intelligence. You can easily identify the people with surnames like Gupta, Garg, Bansal, Rastogi, Aggarwal, Jain, Mittal etc. From a typical sweet shop in the locality to CEO positions in big enterprises, across various businesses, you will easily spot a Baniya ruling everywhere. Not a big deal for them, in fact, smartness comes naturally to them. Remember Lakshmi Mittal?

I was raised among Baniyas mostly and had this opportunity to come a little closer to them. If there is something that keeps them apart from their intelligence, it is their grand weddings and food. Often when it comes to snacks, people spontaneously answer Gujarat. Let me tell you, if you haven’t yet savored snacks by Baniyas, you have missed something big.

In any typical Baniya household at any point of time, you can barge into their kitchen and find snacks like kachoris, laddoos etc. Strongly vegetarian, it is the only community that gives tough competition to non-vegetarian cuisine. Which wedding in the world gives you a box of snacks while returning from a wedding? Baniyas do!

Their weddings are equally worth talking about. The weddings are a 5 day event full of grandeur and gloss. Attend one and tell me you were not awe-struck by it. I bet. On this note, Neeraj Garg, VP with an IT company says, “Our weddings are food exhibition. We love food, we love rich food. Either food is on our mind or money. Nothing else.”

Money, something that is twisting the world upside down. Why wouldn’t Baniyas make most of it?

Vishal Gupta, CEO with an IT company shares, “It is a vicious cycle where our money keeps revolving. We just keep putting our efforts and it is just a generalization that we are money minded. We simply take care of our money.”

Robin Garg, a passionate sales guy shares,”You may find a Baniya poor but the zeal a Baniya will put in coming out of his adversity shall be matchless. This is the reason why you see almost all top places ruled by Baniyas – doctors, engineers, CEOs, businessmen, IAS etc. Though, with regards to IAS, we do fall behind the Biharis, its their winning region.”

Often people confuse Baniya with that of Marwari. Both are different and so are their geographies. Marwaries hail mostly from the regions like Rajasthan. It is because both are involved in trade and business, confusion is obvious.

I was raised among north Indians and mostly Baniyas, never did I come across in my life a below average Baniya, a poor Baniya, a dumb Baniya or an aimless Baniya. I guess, intellect, smartness and culture runs in the genes of each and every Baniya. Next time, you meet a Baniya, appreciate them for their food, weddings and business, chuck the jokes on being scrooge.

Pic couresty – Google

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