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Kaafila is an Arabic/Urdu word which is used for a convoy or a group of travelers. Earlier, people used to travel in big groups in order to escape attacks by robbers etc. and hence used to travel in convoys called Kaafila, or Kaarvaan, which is adopted in the English language as Caravan.

Ahmed Faraz’ beautiful couplet captures the essence of this lafz:
Hamsafar chaahiye, hujoom nahin
Ek musaafir bhi, qaafila hai mujhe
(I want a companion, not a crowd
Even one fellow traveller is like a caravan to me)

The most popular use of the synonym ‘kaaravan’ has been in Majrooh Sultanpuri’s much quoted couplet:
Main akela hi chalaa tha jaanib-e-manzil magar
Log saath aate gaye… karavaan banta gaya
[I was alone when I started towards my destination, but
People kept coming along, and the caravan kept growing]

Other references to Kafila-

Kafila.org is also a team blog – an effort of concerned individuals – scholars, activists, writers, journalists – to create a space for critical engagement on a wide range of issues of the contemporary world. This plays out through their blog which is a collaborative practice of radical political and media critique, and an engagement with the present. Visit them at: http://kafila.org/about/
Some interesting posts on kafila.org
A Hundred Years of Manto – at http://kafila.org/2012/03/12/a-hundred-years-of-manto/
My name is Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan Ghalib and I am not a terrorist – at http://kafila.org/2012/04/10/my-name-is-mirza-asadullah-beg-khan-ghalib-and-i-am-not-a-terrorist/
Delhi 1803-2012: A Brief Biography – at http://kafila.org/2012/05/03/ten-in-one-delhi-1803-2012-5-2/