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  • Writer's pictureVaishali A. Patel


Updated: May 3, 2021

Bole tena bor vechaay…. Discretion helps!

Shakespeare once said the better part of valor is discretion. Knowing when to speak and when to be quiet is a skill we all have to learn.

In Gujarati language and Gujarati culture, these little life lessons are passed down through idioms and proverbs known as kehvat.

Many cultures around the world have little nuggets like this to teach us moral values. Growing up in India I heard many of these through my grandparents and parents using them appropriately when we did something that needed a lesson. Here are a couple that most Gujarati folks are familiar with:

“Bole tena Bor vechaay & Na bolya na nav goon”

First one means the one who speaks will be heard… Bole tena Bor vechaay. The literal meaning is if you are trying to sell Jujubies you will only sell if you are speaking aloud to sell them. No one will know you are selling them if you don’t say anything.

On the contrary, the second one says, Na Bolyaa na nav goon …. which means sometimes it’s better to be quiet. The literal meaning is it’s smart to be quiet sometimes. There are nine values of not speaking.

Although both of these are saying two different things one has to know when to speak one’s mind and when to hold their tongue. This was a valuable lesson as a child and as I was going through my adolescence. I wanted to be part of all adult conversations which I learned was not my place sometimes.

There are situations where you may hear gossip or negative things about other people and although you may feel like you want to chime in it is better to be quiet. This is where Na bolya na nav goon applies. I have heard it say that when two people are gossiping about a third person always, ask yourself

am I putting water to this fire or am I adding to the fire and choose to be the water.

When you witness injustice or you want something in life this is where Bole tena Bor vechaay comes in, it says you must make your voice be heard. If you want change you will have to speak up.

I have thoroughly enjoyed these Gujarati kehvats growing up and I continue to pass them down to my children.

What are some of your favorite kehvats? Please share below I look forward to hearing and learning from you.

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