Lota- a vessel used to store water

Things, artifacts, household items of value to a family that have been preserved. These could be documents like a grandfather’s old passport, a house deed, an old diary, puja items, jewelry, furniture, books, cutlery/crockery and more. It is valuable due to its connection to the past with a story about it. Objects are located in landscapes that consist of people, places and events associated with them. These are intertwined and they overlap. The silos are set up to temporarily make sense of the reality facing this research and then to enable the larger picture to emerge.

A household object is part of a daily routine in a family, starting with affirmations of faith and circulating the rituals of meaning, to trying to manage the burden of moving into another landscape of aspirations that calls for glorifying the objects or discarding them in order to organize and present a new way of life.
Objects hold meaning in as much as they are part of the supporting structure of a lifestyle. They demand a certain care.

Interesting questions stay in the story as to who were the merchants that sold these objects or where are they now? Who had the first ability to use the machine gun like pen attached to a wire in the store that allowed for the writing on the metal? What brought this about as a cultural marker of ownership of household objects that even to this day has great significance?

This object here is a lota, a brass vessel used as kalash in pujas. The ritual meaning of kalash and the significance of the water held inside is paramount in a puja and is available to understand.
The letters on this brass lota are marked B. L. and they stand for Bidri Lal. This lota is the provenance of the Waghray family from Kachiguda, Hyderabad.
The lota travelled to the US with me (Malini Waghray) and came back to be a part of this archival research. While in the US it was a part of my dual-cultural living between the US and India and a remained in my puja as well. It has a special place in this research work hence.

Here is some history about Bidri Lal from the Green Book, which is also on a shared a google drive.

Bidri Lal had his early education in Mufeed-ul-Anam School and City College and B.A. from Osmania University. He joined the agriculture department of the government of Hyderabad and after working in Warangal, was transferred to the office of the director and later promoted as gazetted registrar and retired. He was married to Shama Bai, daughter of Gajanand Pershad Shah.

His grandfather Narayan Das, alias Bachhu Lal, apart from being a Mansabdar was employed in Sarf-e-Khas and posted in the Peshi (personal office) of Nizam the 6th, Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, who had succeeded to the throne in 1869. Narayan Das was one of the members of the Brahma Kshatriya community associated with Bansi Lal Shah, who started Mufeed-ul-Anam School. He was the cousin of Bansi Lal and was honorary treasurer of the school from 1880 to 1889. Bidri Lal was the son of Navratan Lal and great-grandson of Keshav Das Waghray who migrated from Khanbad, Gujrat.

Navratan Lal, son of Narayan Das was educated in Madarasa-e-Aiza, a prime institute. He had joined the Paigah Asman Jahi as an officer in the Accounts Department. Later he was Deputy Accountant General and Deputy Nazim Mukharij. He served the Paigah till his retirement. He was a member of the Managing Committee of the Mufeed-ul-Anam School and was honorary treasurer from 1899 to 1947.
There will be more to the story as the days pass and we leave the virus behind…


Published by Hema Malini

I am a trained sociologist and an archival researcher. I am the principal investigator for an archival research project on the Brahma Kshatriyas of Hyderabad and also founder of choosingwellness.org. I also go by my other name Malini. I am a translator of notes that remain in the margins to bring the user of technologies into sharper focus. I use the term community researcher, immersive researcher to talk about the work I do. In the past, as a Director and user experience lead at Code for Princeton I worked with non-profits, community groups, users, and subject matter experts to identify areas of need. I translated this into conversations with brigade members, developers, potential users, and other stakeholders. The applied ethnography and social research skills got me to meet with a diverse set of people across the broad middle class spectrum in Urban India. Living and working in New Jersey for the past several years has given me a breadth and width of understanding and engaging with people adding critical diversity to my bracket of "users" and experience all rolled in one.

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