KARA BABA, as the Abhwani family remembers him by, was born in Dodhia, one of the Navgham villages, where the Khojas had settled after their move from Kutch around 1770. He was a landless peasant working for a living, on local farms.
He had been working in Vasai for 10 years, when some important shipping businessmen, of the Bhatia caste, came to him with a proposition. They would buy some land in Sarmat for him to cultivate, if he was willing to maintain a watering hole for sacred cows. The Bhatia’s were wealthy Hindus and this was a religious duty for them.
So Kara bapa created a watering area and maintained it well. It was hard work as during the day, the cows would use the pond but at night the camels would make it dirty. So every early morning, the area had be cleaned –200 litres of water a day had to be brought in leather water bags from a distant well etc.
Kara bapa did such a good job that the Bhatia sethias bosses eventually gave him the land as a gift.
Since there were no homes on that land, the family built thatched roof huts and gradually expanded it into a homestead.