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21st February 2017

Short History of the Gujarati Hindu Mochi community residing in Birmingham - UK

Author:   Jayantilal Ambalal Surti – Birmingham, UK.
Many of the youngsters, belonging to our Gujarati Hindu Mochi Community, were either born in the UK, or came to the UK at a very young age. They have recently started showing an interest in their personal history, ancestral roots, heritage and identity.  In 2013 Shree Birmingham Pragati Mandal celebrated History and Heritage Day.  From the discussions and feedback I had at that event, especially from the younger generation of our community,   I was inspired to write this article outlining our history.
This short article is about the Journey of our Gujarati Hindu Mochi community from the early days as Rajputs (Raja=king and puts=sons of, Rajput= sons of Kings) who migrated to south Gujarat then to other parts of the world and finally to the UK.
I have been interested in family connections from a very young age. I was lucky to have been brought up in an extended family environment whereby I had the benefit of being guided by grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts and coming into contact with various relatives and friends.  I have also been associated with Shree Birmingham Pragati Mandal (BPM) since 1966 when I first arrived in the UK and I have held many different positions in the executive committee of the Mandal. I have also maintained interest in our community in our motherland, India. Also I have been lucky in that I can read, write and speak English and Gujarati which has helped me to acquire some knowledge on this subject. I have also held different positions in other Hindu organisations in Birmingham. With that in mind, I thought I would have a go at writing this article. I hope it would be of interest to all, but especially to the younger generation of our community born and residing outside India.
To-date, I have not come across such a detailed historic account/ record of our community who have ventured out of India to settle in different parts of the world. Therefore, I also hope that this document, in absence of any other better information, will be treated  as a reference document by our future generations who may be interested in our  identity and history. Although the article is about the “journey” our community  members residing in Birmingham, most of the  “journey” is equally applicable to our community members residing in other towns and cities in the UK, such as Leicester, London, Leeds, Preston etc.    
Please Note that I have written this article in my personal capacity and not as a representative of any organisation.  
Who are the Gujarati Hindu Mochis living in Birmingham/UK and where do they originate from?
Let me start by explaining the meaning of the word “Mochi” as used in the Gujarati language and many other Indian languages.  A Mochi is a person who makes shoes, sandals, saddles, covers  for  swords etc. from leather, mainly by hand. According to folklore, the word “Mochi” originated from word “mojdi” a type of shoe which is like a slipper but pointed. People started identifying the makers of mojdi as Mochi. Therefore the word mochi describes the trade by which a person earns his living. Somehow the word “trade” in this context became synonymous with the word “caste”.  Similarly, a Gujarati Hindu “Kumbhar” is a potter making pots etc. from clay and a “Suthar” is a carpenter working with and making things out of wood. They are all Gujaratis – that is, they all come from the same state of Gujarat which is on the west coast of India. They speak the same language, Gujarati, and mainly follow the Hindu religion. Therefore, they all have much in common from a cultural, social and religious point of view; except they make their living from different trades. Thus Mochis, the Kumbhars and the Suthars  became  different “castes”.
Traditionally, the different “castes” formed their own communities and married their sons and daughters within the same community. This way a bride, although going to and settling with a different family, found the environment very similar to that at her parents’ home i.e. her husband would be doing the same trade/work as her father or brothers. Thus the new bride would be able to settle down easily in the new family.  Hence, in normal circumstances, “inter-caste” marriages were very rare in India.  
As Mochis worked with leather, which originates from animals (cows, goats etc.), they were considered to be of lower status –“ lower caste” by some other Hindus, such as Brahmins, who considered themselves to belong to   a  higher caste. It must be said that it is ironical that the Brahmins have been wearing leather shoes/sandals which were made, and are still made, by the Mochis !
Even now, in modern day India, sons and grandsons of a Mochi , who have not followed their forefathers trade and never handled leather, are still considered to be of a lower caste by the so called higher caste communities!
In India, where we originate from, it was customary for the male off- springs of the family to follow the trade of their father.  The trade of the Mochi was not lucrative and hence most, if not all, Mochis were poor and lived hand to mouth. Also, having many children, especially sons, was a form of  “insurance”; where the sons were expected to take over the trade from their father when they were old and infirm and were also expected to look after the elders.  From what I understand from discussions with older members of our community, there were only a few Mochi families in India some hundred years ago who were slightly better off. That was because their forefathers owned some land and made a living from farming. Often extended families lived in small mud huts in cramped conditions. The trade was done from the front part of the house. Generally one would find a “Mochi sheri” or Mochi-wad” in a village or town. This is to say that it would be normal to find all Mochi houses in a row – Mochiwad -  in a village or town. Similarly one would find all the” Kumbhars” in a row Kumbharwad-  in different part of the same village or town. 
Where did the Mochis in Bharuch, Surat and Valsad Distrists of Gujarat originate from?
Traditionally in India, Barots were nominated by Kings as clerks and their job was to keep records. One of the records they used to keep was of births, marriages and deaths.  There would be a Barot allocated for Mochi families only.  He would go round different villages/towns gathering and updating information. If there were a lot of families in a particular village then he would stay overnight in the village/town and visit each Mochi family in turn. He would talk to the family head and update that family’s records. He would note down any births, deaths and marriages which had taken place since his last visit. For this he would be given a small fee from each family for keeping the records. He would then move on to the next village or town. For keeping such important records, Barots have a special type of thick books which would be passed down their generations.
Some curious members of our Mochi community in UK and other overseas countries have recently contacted our Barot to find out who their forefathers were and where they originated from. From the information obtained from our Barot, our ancestors were engaged in the business of making  footwear and other leather goods by hand and that's why we are   known as ' mochis'. However, our community members have different surnames; such as Chauhan, Parmar, Solanky, Chavda etc. These surnames are from different lineage (vansa) of the families. From example Chauhans are from the Pruthviraj Chauhan family, Solankis are from the Mulraj Solanki Family.
It appears that, originally we all were Kshatriya Rajputs (warriors), one of the four basic divisions of Hindu society. We originally came from Rajasthan, one of the Indian states in the North-west of India just north of Gujarat. As warriors, we served various Kings / Maharajahs. In peace time we used to make goods from Leather. In the olden days when metal work was not in existence a number of items were made of leather, often raw leather i.e not tanned leather. For example large water containers were made of leather; this was known as “Kosh” in Gujarati. Farmers used these large containers for watering the crops. Ladies used “Pakhal” – a water carrier made from leather for domestic use. We also used to make “Buckhtar” – leather armour for warriors, “Miyans” – leather covers for swords and made saddles from leather.  
The answers to the question “ Why and When we migrated from Rajasthan to Gujarat ?” may vary. Some say the climate in Rajasthan started to change and was becoming semi-desert and the land was not fertile whereas the land in Gujarat was fertile and there was food available. Some say with the Moghal Empire expanding into India, the Hindu Rulers’ armies became redundant and conditions for our forefathers became intolerable and therefore they decided to migrate down south where there were better prospects for a living to be made. For example the Chauhans migrated from Simargadh (in Rajasthan) to Ajmer, Delhi, then to Patan (Sidhpur Patan )  and from there to Kotasan (Mehsana district)  then Champaner (around 1252)  and eventually they moved to different parts of South Gujarat. This explains why some of our community members have the surname Champaneria or Champaneri.
Similarly, the Solanki lineage migrated from Tintoda (place of current border of India-Pakistan) to Sidhpur Patan, Modhera, Mehsana and then down to the different parts of south Gujarat.
Parmar lineage migrated from the Abu area. (part of Rajasthan) down to Gujarat  and then to the southern part of Gujarat in different towns and villages.
As time went by, some of our Mochi community members started adopting surnames which were based on the villages/towns their forefathers eventually settled in southern Gujarat. For example the surname  Bulsara from Bulsar(Valsad), Bodhani from Bodhan,  Amalsadia from Amalsad, Surti from Surat(Surat town or Surat District), Kuntawala from Kunta, Dabhi from Dabhel , Amliwala from Amli, Pardiwala from Pardi and so on.  Some surnames are related to special skills; for example Miyangers are mochis who specialised in making “Miyans” (Leather cover for swords). 
Some of our community members have surnames which are based on the first names of their grandfather or great-grandfather; this was due to administrative reasons(misunderstanding) when it was common for a person to give his first name and then add “S/O”  (son of) followed by their father’s name. This then became the surname of the grandchild, mainly because many of our ancestors were illiterate and relied on administrators to fill in forms for them. This use of a grandfather or great-grandfather’s first name as a surname is very common in Southern Africa even today.
Although the main reason for our mochi community to migrate towards south Gujarat in Bharuch, Surat and Valsad districts was to be economically better off, even then they were still very poor as our trade was not lucrative.  Many of our families were living near or below  poverty line. 

How and why did we end up in various parts of the world?
India, often referred to as the “Jewel in the Crown” (British), was a one the country in the British Empire. Also, the British had many other colonies in Africa and other parts of the world. Africa, at the end of nineteenth century and beginning of twentieth century, was mainly jungle/ grassland and  undeveloped. Towards the end of the nineteen century the British colonisers started building the railways starting from the coastal town of Mombasa to Uganda via Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. There was a desperate shortage of craftsmen, skilled/ semi -skilled workers and labourers. So the British positively encouraged many Indians to travel to Kenya, and other parts of Africa.  There was also an advantage in attracting Indians as they already had experience of constructing the railways in India. Hence the British initiated and planned migration of Indians to Africa   A few of our Mochi community members were amongst these Indian who migrated to Africa. Some of these Indians were not intending to work on the railways but they thought this was an opportunity to venture out to other parts of the world to better their lives i.e. they became economic migrants. Some of the members of our community had enrolled in the British army in Kenya. They made and repaired shoes, boots, and saddles for the soldiers in the peace time and fought for the army when necessary.
In the beginning, only the male members of our Mochi community went to Africa.  Every few years they used to make trips back and forth between Africa and India to visit their families. Once they settled down in Africa they started calling their families to Africa. In those days, travelling by Air was out of question; it was too expensive. Most of the pioneers who went to Africa before the Second World War travelled by “dhows”, small ships made of wood with sails and so were relying on the power  of the wind. With favourable winds they reached Africa in just over two weeks. Many took twice that time if the wind direction and speed was not favourable. Some even got lost and never reached Africa and have not been heard of since. Facilities and conditions on the dhows were very basic. There were no beds, people slept on the floors – normally men slept on  the top deck and  women and small children would sleep below deck. Water was scarce and was used for cooking and drinking only. For personal cleansing and washing up, they used sea water which was brought up by rope and buckets. The early settlers of our Mochi community, mainly from the districts of Surat, Valsad and Bharuch quickly embraced the opportunities to be had in the new British colonies in Africa.
As the relatives and friends of those early pioneers found that life in Africa was more promising than in India, they also started leaving India to better their lives. Some of our early settlers had opened shops (“Duka” – Swahili word for a shop) in Africa and they needed “Mochis” to work for them so that they could expand their businesses. There was a shortage of skilled “Mochis” in Africa. Local Africans had not yet developed the required skills. Therefore, many shopkeepers sponsored their relatives and friends on “contracts” – this meant that those who were sponsored had to work for a set number of years for those shopkeepers who sponsored them. They could not work for other bosses during that period, even if they were unhappy.
The building of the east African railways opened the interior parts of East Africa to trade, and many Asians soon began migrating away from the coastal cities, such as Mombasa, on the east coast of Africa. Many from our Mochi community settled in the new town of Nairobi, which had been the capital of the British protectorate since the early twentieth century. Gradually our families went even further into the interior to Uganda and other towns, including those in Tanganyika, around Lake Victoria. Many of our community members acquired other skills such as tailoring, motor mechanics, electricians etc. Many of our early pioneers went even further down south along the East African coast to countries like South Africa, North and South Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively), Mozambique (a Portuguese colony) etc. Very few, if any, went to the west coast of Africa to countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.
Once the male members had settled down in their chosen town they started calling their spouses and families over from India. The majority of the members of our Mochi community went to Africa between the 1930s and 1950s. As some of the mochi workers built up savings, they also started opening shops.  Some started venturing into smaller towns and villages away from the capital.
As our families settled down they realised that there were better opportunities for educating their children. So our families encouraged their children to get good education so that they could get good well-paid clerical and administrative jobs in banks, offices, government departments etc.  The parents did not wish their children to be “Mochis” as it was not a lucrative career.  As time went by, fewer and fewer members of our younger generation followed their forefathers’ trade. Although the opportunities for acquiring good education were better than in India, very few studied beyond Metriculation Level (GCSE Level in UK today). The parents could not afford to send their children for higher education. Also they were desperate for added income in the family. For example, in Mombasa there were around 400 families but less than two families were able to send their sons to University during the entire 70/80 years history of Mochis in Mombasa.
Although many of our community members owned their shops and ran businesses, they were not well off; many lived hand to mouth. Our women, with a very few exceptions, did not go out to work. Their main role was to be wife and mother and to look after their home. According to our tradition many had to look after their elderly in-laws in the extended family system. Therefore, in many families the head of the family was the only breadwinner until their sons left school at around 16/18 years of age and started earning. There was no welfare system. Fees were charged at school, for medical treatment etc. In short, there was only one breadwinner, whose income was meagre, and often there were between six and eight mouths to feed. Only a few who worked in government departments or Banks and offices of major private companies had a reasonable income and therefore were slightly better off. Most of our families lived in rented rooms, with shared bathrooms / kitchens.  Large families would rent flats. Before the Second World War most of our homes did not have running water or electricity. Water had to be fetched from a few water-points set up by the local municipality. The fetching of the water was done by local Africans who were employed as servants who also helped with other household chores. For lighting people used oil lamps until electricity was installed.  Very few of our community members owned properties.  Just to give an example, out of nearly 400 Mochi families living in Mombasa, Kenya, only 2/3 families owned properties. The same applies to other luxuries such as owning cars and  having  telephones or fridges in the homes.
When the Asians were in Africa the different communities, mingled and socialised quite freely. The younger Asians of different castes/communities moved away from their forefathers’ trade/craft to earn a living and were mixing much more freely.  Hence the hierarchy of the caste system was not as noticeable as in India.  In other words, when it came to working, living, and socialising, the caste of an individual was of much less relevance in Africa than in India.  Different  communities of the Gujarati Hindus, the Sikhs, the Muslims all lived harmoniously.  As a result the members of the Mochi community in Africa ‘felt more comfortable’ than in India when mixing and socialising with members of the other communities who considered themselves of higher social status in India.  Nevertheless, different communities had their own community halls/ buildings for getting together and for social occasions.  For example, in Mombasa, Kenya, the Mochi community acquired our own hall in 1959 but we were not able to make much use of it as our Mochi population started dwindling from 1963 when Kenya became independent. After 1968 only a few families remained in Mombasa as most had travelled to the UK or back to India. I understand that at present there are only two Mochi families in Mombasa. From the late 1950s the British government tightened up immigration from India to Kenya and other east African colonies. Therefore the flow of our Mochi community members from India to Africa tailed off after the mid-fifties.
Why and how did members of our Mochi community become British Citizens while living in Africa?
After the Second World War, the British Government gave the Asians living in African countries a choice to register as British Citizens. This was so that if there ever was another war then British Citizens would be protected; but they would also be expected to fight on the side of the British. Many of our Mochi elders chose to register as British Citizens. None of these elders, in their wildest dreams, ever thought they would go to the UK at some time in their life. They registered as British Citizens only because they thought they would be better protected as British Citizens by the British Government or their representatives in the colonies in case there was another war. At the same token, I do not think the British Government ever thought that the Asians in Africa, who were opting to be British Citizens, would in the future come to the UK. I am of the opinion they must have thought that the British Asians in Africa would go back to India, the country they came from, if and when conditions for them in African countries became uncomfortable.
As the heads and elders  of the families  were registered as British Citizens for the reasons given above, this gave them and their families the right to settle in the UK.
In 1961 the UK government was planning to introduce an immigration law which would somewhat restrict immigration to the UK. Some of our community members thought that the UK government would stop immigration completely. Therefore, a few of them came to the UK before the immigration law was passed. A few from India also came to UK for similar reasons.  Some of these came to Birmingham and surrounding towns as jobs were readily available in the Midlands. There were a lot of jobs for blue collar workers in foundries and factories.
What was the impact of the Wind of change blowing across Africa during the 1960’s on our Mochi community?
At the same time, in the early 1960s, the wind of change was blowing in Africa and many countries were demanding independence. The conditions were becoming unfavourable for the Asians living in these African countries. For example when Kenya became independent in 1963, relationships between Asians and Africans became sour. Soon after independence, the Asians were given a choice to become Kenya citizens within two years which meant they had to give up their British citizenship. Very few Asians, including those belonging to the Mochi community became Kenyan citizens.  Africans started to distrust the Asians who had been living for so long in African countries who now did not wish to take up local citizenship. Their loyalty to their fellow countrymen was  being questioned.
The Kenyan government passed laws which meant that only those with Kenyan citizenship would be employed in the civil service and if they needed to work in other companies they were required to acquire work permits. Restrictions were introduced for non-Kenyans to engage in Trade and Businesses.
Many of our Mochi brothers were replaced at work by the local Africans. Life for the shopkeepers who were British citizens also became difficult as their trading licences could not be renewed.
As life for our Mochi community members (and other British Indians) in the newly independent African countries was becoming unpredictable, uncomfortable and the future looking gloomy, many of our members were faced with a dilemma. Whilst their bodies were in Africa, their hearts were in India and their minds were in the UK. They had two realistic options. One was to go back to India, the country they or their forefathers came from; the other was to go to the UK on the basis that they were registered as British Citizens and they would be accepted by and be looked after by the UK government. However, India at that time was a developing country and it was difficult to get jobs or to set up a businesses. Many of our Mochi families had no homes to go back to as they had sold them after coming to Africa and never thought they would leave Africa.  Although the Indian Government did not stop British Asians going there, it did not offer any help to them.  How could it when the local Indians themselves had no jobs; even those Indians who were University graduates had no jobs!  
Therefore, many of our Mochi community members decided to come to the UK even though they knew they were going to a country with a different culture, religious and social environment than they were used to. At first there was a slow trickle of immigration to the UK from the east African countries. The word got around that, although it was much colder in the UK, it was easy to get a job and settle down here and many of the facilities such as education and medical treatments were “free” and those not in employment were looked after by the “welfare state”.  Therefore, the numbers of Asian immigrants coming from that part of the world started increasing.
In the late sixties the UK Government was planning to rush a bill through Parliament to restrict the inflow of Asians from East Africa and other holders of British Passports in foreign countries. These Asians with British Passports were expected to join the “quota system” to regulate the flow into the UK. This meant that some families would have to wait for months, if not years, to come to the UK.  The word got back to the Asians – who were holding British Passport – living in East African  countries. They could not afford to be  in a situation in their present country of residence where they would have no jobs, and hence no income, for an uncertain period.  A deadline of 28 February 1968 was set by the UK Government for introducing the new immigration law. To beat this deadline thousands of Asians, including members of our Gujarati Hindu Mochi community, from east African countries, mainly Kenya, came to the UK within a short period of time. In the beginning, many of them would have had a feeling of ‘regret’ as they landed in the UK during the harsh winter months.  Many of these families came to Birmingham to join their family and friends. Many went to other cities in the UK e.g London, Leicester, Leeds etc.
Thereafter the flow of Asian immigrants from African countries slowed down for a few years as British citizens had to join the queue for getting visas.
Expulsion of Asians, including members of our Mochi community, from Uganda - 1972
In 1972, Idi Amin, the then President of Uganda gave an ultimatum to all  Asians to leave Uganda within 3 months.  The Ugandan government was of the opinion that Asians were accumulating wealth and controlling the availability of goods and  local Africans were suffering and this was detrimental to the economy of Uganda. Many of these Asians from Uganda were registered British Citizens and had the legal right to come to the UK. Although they were of Indian origin the then Indian Government did not offer any help to these “British Indians” and they claimed that this was a British problem because these Indians held “British Citizenship”. Therefore the word got around that most, if not all, Asians from Uganda would be coming to the UK.  There would be thousands of families coming to the UK in a short period of time. This led to uproar in the UK as many white citizens thought they would be “swamped” by these Asians who spoke little English and had their own strong cultural and social structure. Also, their jobs would be at risk. Some local Councils in the UK put adverts in the newspapers that there would be no housing or other facilities, such as school places, for the children of these Asian families, thus discouraging them to settle in those towns and cities. Nevertheless, the UK government had no choice but to accept the Asians who were British Citizens.  They arrived in the UK in their thousands. Many Asians who did not have any relatives or friends in the UK were offered houses and many were initially taken to camp sites where they were well looked after. From these camps they were gradually moved to different towns and cities where they were offered living accommodation. Help was given in finding jobs.
Amongst these Asians were hundreds of our Gujarati Hindu Mochi families many of whom left their home, businesses, cars and other assets behind. All they could bring to UK was the normal luggage allowance allowed by the airlines and very little cash in £ sterling.
Flow of our Mochi Gnati members from India after 1968
With the introduction of these tough immigration laws in the UK, it became very difficult, if not impossible for members of our community in India to come and settle in the UK. The only other viable means for most of them was to get married to a British Citizen who was already settled in the UK. Hence many members of our community, men and women, came to the UK by getting married to a British Citizen.
What was it like for our Mochi community members during the early years of their settlement in UK.?   
In the early years of settlement in the UK, most, if not all, heads of our Mochi families were not educated, and had limited knowledge of English, and they did not have enough Capital to set up businesses. Whatever savings they had in India or Africa were spent on Air tickets to travel to the UK. There was only a handful that had some money left but was not enough to start a business straightaway. Therefore, in the beginning many started working in factories. This was a great cultural shock as the majority had only learnt how to make shoes etc. from leather by hand. They were not familiar with a factory environment. Nevertheless they were keen to settle down in their newly adopted country. A few who had some basic education in Africa, or had worked in clerical and administrative jobs, were successful in securing clerical and administrative jobs in local or central government departments, private firms, banks and offices.
As they settled down in their jobs their first objective was to buy a house as most of them in the beginning lived in rented properties. Some of the rented properties did not even have bathrooms and people had to go to public baths for having a bath, often once or twice a week. One could find many extended families living together thus maintaining the traditions in India and Africa. Grandparents, parents and children all lived under one roof. At first, they started to buy houses in “run down “ areas where the local white population was moving out and the houses were therefore cheap. This led to the Asians living  close by each other to be nearer their relatives and friends. As their financial situation of our community members improved, they started spreading out into more affluent areas and integrating with the local community. Also the tradition of living in extended family began to break down.
How and why did the roles of the women change in the UK?
The women of Mochi families in India and in Africa traditionally played the important role of   housewives. However, in the UK we soon realised that in order to improve our financial status and standard of living the women also had to go out to work to earn money.  Moreover, work was readily available in the late sixties and seventies. As these women had not been encouraged to gain much education in India/ Africa most of them ended up working in factories. This put a lot of pressure on women as they had to go to work and after work had to cook and carry out other domestic chores for their husbands and children.
The younger generation of our Mochi community grasped the opportunity of acquiring higher education.
Education in the UK was “free” (financed by the government through the collection of taxes), and compulsory up to the age of 16 years, so parents started encouraging their children to attain a high level of education. The parents started to have high aspirations and wanted their children to become Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacist, Accountants and Engineers. In the beginning only the boys went to Universities but then the parents started to encourage their daughters to attain high standards through colleges and universities. Such opportunities were not readily available in India or Africa. Many of the youngsters were the first in their family to go to University. These educational opportunities and achievements have led our younger generation to a variety of professions. Many have embarked on business adventures and have been very successful. These professions and businesses bear no resemblance to the occupation and trade of our forefathers. In the strictest sense they are not Mochis. (The definition of a Mochi is - one who makes shoes etc. from leather). But since their forefathers were Mochis, they belong to the Mochi community. They are identified by others Gujarati communities as Mochis.
However, there are a few, only a few, who have followed our forefathers’ trade and are ‘asli mochis’(genuine  shoemakers, mainly repairing shoes); albeit they make use of modern machinery which makes life as a mochi much easier and pleasant. 
Brief History of the Mochi Community Organisation in Birmingham, UK
As mentioned above, members of the Gujarati Hindu Mochi community started settling in the UK in the mid-1950s. As far as I know the Mochi community members started settling in Birmingham from early 1953.
I have managed to contact some of the members of our community who were the early arrivals and settled in and around Birmingham. Some of the names and associated dates are:-
Shree  Bhikhubhai Ramji Parmar (Surat, India) came to Birmingham in 1953.
Late Shree Jekishanbhai  Parbhubhai Champaneri (Ugat, India), came to West Bromwich in 1957
Shree Natubhai Parbhubhai Morar (Kavitha, India/ Mombasa,Kenya ) came to Oldbury in June 1960 and then moved to Birmingham.
Shree Laxmanbhai Champaneri (Chikhli,  India)
Shree Girdharbhai Vasanji Bulsara (Bulsar /Bombay, India)
Many followed on later  as described above..
 Maintaining of Identity and Gujarati Hindu Mochi Culture and Religious Values 
The members of the Mochi community (and other communities from India) who started settling in the UK did not forget their culture, religion and customs.  We must remember that the Hindu religion and culture is over five thousand years old and is well entrenched “as a way of life” for the Hindus. As such, they started to set up community organisations (mandals) in many of the big cities; Birmingham was one of them.
Although a few of our mochi community members were working and residing in and around Birmingham they did not know of each other. It was Shree Bhikhaibhai Ramjibhai Parmar’s idea to establish a Mochi Mandal in Birmingham. He contacted others community members settled in and around Birmingham and on 12 April 1964 he got them together at the residence of Shree Girdharbhai Vasanji Bulsara. The following pioneers and founder members of our mochi mandal in Birmingham were present at that meeting:-
Shree Bhikhubhai Ramjibhai  Parmar – Chair of the meeting
Shree Laxmanbhai S Champaneri
Shree Girdharbhai Vasanji Bulsara   
Shree Jekishanbhai Parbhubhai Champaneri
Shree Chhaganbhai Parbhubhai
Shree Bhagwandas Dayarambhai Parmar
Shree Amratbhai N Parmar
Shree Balwantbhai Purshottambhai
Shree Natwarbhai Parbhubhai Chauhan
I understand there were others also present at this meeting.
This was a historic event in the History of the Mochi community settled in Birmingham. It was on this day that it was decided to establish a  “Mandal” for the Mochi community  in Birmingham.
The first Mochi community gathering in Birmingham took place at Shree Sikh Gurudwara hall, St. Mary’s Row, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12. Other community members from other parts of the UK also attended this gathering. At this gathering our community members had a chance to socialise and in order to create unity within the community it was decided to call a general meeting of the mochi community in Birmingham. On 15 May 1964 a general meeting was called under the chairmanship of Shree Bhikhubhai Ramji Parmar. At this meeting “Shree Midland Mochi Gnati Association” was officially established and founded.
The following office bearers were elected at that meeting:-
Shree Laxmanbhai Sukhabhai Champaneri -            President
Shree Girdharbhai Vasanji Bulsara  -                         Secretary
Shree Natwarbhai Parbhubhai Chauhan        Assistant Secretary 
Shree Girdharbhai Bulsara was the key person responsible for drafting our first constitution which was discussed and adopted at the general meeting. In the beginning, the main social event used to be a Diwali gathering for our community. As we did not have our own hall we used to hire school halls and church halls. With the influx of our community members in the late 1960’s we started organising other events such as coach trips to the seaside, Navratri, and other religious and cultural events.
As outlined above there was a mass movement of our community members from Africa to the UK in 1968 and thereafter. Thus the membership of our Mandal increased tremendously in that year. In  1968 the name of the Mandal was changed because some of our members did not like the word “Mochi” incorporated in the official name of the Mandal. The official name of the Mandal was changed to “Shree Birmingham Pragati Mandal”(BPM).  This could be an indication that some of our members were at the time still feeling “uncomfortable” or even feeling “inferior” by being  associated with the word “Mochi”.
Annual General Meetings were held every year and elections of the Management Committee took place every two years. Usual activities as mentioned above continued to take place. In 1978/79 the then secretary of the Mandal decided to write and distribute a Newsletter to Mochi community households in and around Birmingham, informing them of the forthcoming events. This was the start of the practice of communicating with the Mochi community households via the Newsletter. At that time there were no computers or other suitable printing facilities so these newsletters were handwritten and copied.
Meanwhile, our community organisations in other towns and cities in England had also started setting up their own Mandals.  In 1976 a few of our leading community figures floated the idea of forming an umbrella body of the Mochi community whereby representatives of the  mandals in various cities and towns could come together and discuss common issues relating to our community. An ad-hoc body was formed to draft a constitution. The official constitution was adopted after some amendments and the first elections were held in Birmingham in 1977.  The Gujarati Arya Kshatriya Mahasabha (GAKM) - UK was officially established in 1977.  The main purpose of the Mahasabha was to bring about unity within the Mochi community and bring about changes to old customs and practices. They have been organising two major events on annual basis. One is Diwali Gatherings and the other Matrimonial Gathering whereby our young male and female members of our community would get a chance to meet and hopefully select their future partners. The Mahasabha have also been undertaking the task of collating and compiling the GAKM – UK directory every few years. This is very useful as it helps our community members to keep in touch with each other and maintain our identity and unity.
BPM Mandal is also affiliated to the Hindu Council of Birmingham – an affiliation of about 42 Hindu organisations.
In 1982 around 7 members of our community signed the Declaration of Trust and registered  the  Mandal with the Charity Commission.  From then on, they were official Trustees of the Mandal Trust and took over the overall control, including the power to make decisions in relation to the Mandal; all the associated legal responsibilities and duties rested with trustee body. The first Chair of the Trustees was Late Shree Jekishanbhai P Champaneri of Ugat, India.  He, therefore, as the chairman of the Trustees, held the topmost and most responsible position in the Mandal. In my opinion, this was a major change from the previous constitution of the Mandal whereby the Presidents used to hold the top position in the Mandal.
Over the years, the Mandal had aspirations of having its own building / hall. Under the leadership, guidance and control of the Chair of the Trustees, Shree Jekishanbhai Champaneri, and with the support of various community members, the Mandal was able to acquire a site in Sparkbrook and a purpose built hall was officially opened in 1988 on the corner of Henley Street and Sampson Road in Sparkbrook, Birmingham. Within the hall, a small temple “Krishna Temple” was incorporated.
Members of our community in Birmingham contributed whatever they could, depending on their financial circumstances. A number of our community members residing in other cities of the UK also contributed funds towards the construction of the hall.  The Names of the major donors have been displayed in the Hall. 
The various religious and cultural events which used to take place in school/church halls and other venues could now be held in our Mandal’s hall.
A souvenir has been published to mark the opening ceremony of the BPM. It contains a brief history of the Mandal since its establishment. It also contains a list of Past Presidents, Secretaries and Treasurers  of the Mandal. Those readers of this article who are interested in these details should acquire and read  the souvenir.
As there is a temple within the hall, alcohol and non-vegetarian food is not permitted on the premises. As the majority of our members are  non-vegetarians some of the events are held at other venues.
As the years went by, the number of our community households in Birmingham kept increasing.  The main reason is that the traditional extended family system is breaking down. Younger generations prefer to live independently and are setting up their own separate homes. Currently (2015) there are around 800 households of our Mochi Community in and around Birmingham.
An  article  titled “Shree Birmingham Pragati Mandal – Moving Forward into the 21st Century”  on page in the Hittechho – Issue No. 646  published in November/December 2015 gives an outline of the Mandals progress in the early part of this century.
Current dilemma facing our Mochi Community and other Gujarati communities
As mentioned at the start of this article the “caste” system which was prevalent in India is not prevalent in the UK and in the recent years there has been an increase in the “inter-caste” marriages amongst our youngsters. The youngsters see no relevance of the existence of various organisations which are based on the caste or community system.  They are born in the UK and as such see themselves as British Hindus. They are exposed to the western style of life and they have similar aspirations and ambitions as the general population. There is a movement of being united as Gujaratis and as Hindus. The religion and culture they are born in is over five thousand years old and they believe it has a lot to offer to them in the spiritual sense.
There were many foresighted Hindus who wanted to set up “Hindu Communities” (where caste system- based on trade of an individual’s forefathers- had no relevance). They built Hindu Temples where all Hindus, irrespective of their origin / community  are welcomed and pray and socialise together. This is now ‘paying off’ as our youngsters neither understand the caste/community system nor are interested in it. They see no relevance of it in this day and age of globalisation. This is why in recent years organisations which were based on caste/community basis are seeing and experiencing a decline in active participation by their younger generation. The younger generations of all communities now look to the religious based organisations which are open to all and where the youth from all communities feel united and have a common purpose. Nevertheless to maintain our Mochi identity they still see the existence of BPM, alongside with other organisations,  to be vital for them and their future generations.
Where are the pioneers who came to the UK in the 1960s and 1970s? 
The first generation of our mochi community who came to the UK in the 1950s / 1960s /1970s have reached or are reaching retirement age. They faced difficulties in the beginning but with hard work and determination they were able to establish themselves and made much progress not only for themselves but also for their families.  Most of them own their own homes, cars and other luxurious items and have good lifestyles.  Unfortunately, many have left this world taking with them their valuable family’s history and heritage without passing on to their younger generations.
 The most important thing they have done is that they educated their children and helped them settle down quickly. Many have helped their children to set up businesses. The younger generations, who were born outside India, should be grateful to our forefathers who took great risks and went through difficult times while uprooting from India and in many cases other countries as well before settling in the UK.
Many of the retired elders are still attracted to their motherland, India.  Many of our retired elder members are now spending most of the winter months in India.  Some have even bought flats/houses for this purpose. How long will this trend last? The generations born outside India have not maintaining any heartfelt connections with relatives who are now more than three generations removed. They have language and cultural difficulties.  The big questions is  “Will the future generations maintain their links with our community members /organisations  in India?”   
The future of the Gujarati Hindu Mochi community living in Birmingham, UK.
I feel that in the next decade or two the younger generation of our Mochi community will face a great dilemma. The choices are either to continue to carry on maintaining our identity and living as Mochi community and occasionally socialising  and mixing with other Hindu communities while integrating with the general host community OR  to let go of our identity as Mochis and mix and socialise freely with other Gujarati Hindu Communities.
The number of the inter-community marriages is increasing and it seems that our youngsters do not see any merit in maintaining our identity just as Mochis  but  consider themselves as Gujarati Hindus as they do not see the relevance of the caste / community system in this day and age and in the UK.
However, I strongly believe that they should maintain their identity and heritage and they should think of the ways of maintaining the links with India, where our forefathers came from, and where the Hindu Religion and culture originated from.  Various Hindu communities in the UK should work together in harmony. At the same time they should respect the values of the country (U.K) they are residing in  and have adopted as their home.
I have taken care to get the facts and figures right as far as humanly possible and am not responsible for any errors or omissions. In order  to maintain the flow of history and to avoid clutter, I have tried to keep to the minimum the names of various people who have played their part in serving  our community in Birmingham. However, I have named only a few individuals who were parts of the major ‘watershed’ events.  From my bitter experience, once you start naming a few individuals then others will complain as to why they have not been mentioned. Also, if the article is filled with a lot of names the readers would start to lose interest.  If any reader of this article is interested in the names of the people who have held various positions in BPM since its establishment, then they may be obtained from the souvenir produced in the late 1980s and from the subsequent BPM newsletters, articles published in our community magazines and records  held by BPM.
Jayantilal Ambalal Surti ( originally of Bodhan, India,  born in Mombasa, Kenya  and  now residing in Birmingham UK. )
April 2016.

5th August 2012

Bridge Lessons

Dear Members,

Our community has found a very experienced and qualified Bridge teacher - Mr. Harish Patel - who has agreed to run Bridge classes for the community.

Bridge is a very popular social game.It can boost the social aspect and attract a lot of community members to regularly attend Kenton Hall. It will bring the families and friends closer together. It is suitable for persons of any age whether Senior citizens or youngsters. All are welcome.

We are proposing a 12 session course which will be once a week, on a Thursday evening at 7.30 PM. The lessons are around one hour each followed by 30 to 60 minutes practice. The first two lessons are "taster lessons" to allow you can decide whether to carry on seriously after that. Tea and biscuits will be served at break time. You do not have to have played any card games before - the first lesson will start with absolute basics!

The proposed start date is Thursday, September 6th 2012.

The cost is £100 for the full course of 12 lessons. This can be paid in two instalments of £50. This comes to only £8.34 per lesson! Once you decide to carry on, there will be an essential official bridge exercise book to be bought at a modest cost.

After 12 weeks we will arrange to have regular Bridge playing sessions once every week - either on Thursday or Friday evenings.

For all those interested to take up this offer please register your name with:

Anil Pardiwalla

Tel: 0774 8108 032

25th September 2011

Navratri Festival

Dear Members,
The Navratri Festival at Kenton Hall will be celebrated from Wednesday 28th September to Wednesday 5th October, 7.30pm to 10.30pm (11.00 pm on Fri & Sat). This year, Navratri is over 8 days, with Aatham falling on Tuesday 4th October.

The celebrations have become increasing popular every year and on busy days, we regrettably have to turn away patrons. Entry will therefore be restricted to ticket holders. Tickets which can be purchased in advance (recommended), or at the door, at the following prices:

8 day transferable pass (including Aatham) - £10 per person
Fri 30th Sept & Sat 1st Oct - £3 per person
Tues 4th Oct (Aatham) - £3 in advance, £5 on the day, subject to availability
All Other Days - £2

Entry for Senior Citizens over 60 and children under 10 will be FREE (proof of age required).

Due to Council regulations, Tickets availability will be limited to the Hall capacity. Once this limit is reached, only patrons with prior tickets will be allowed entry. To avoid any disappointment, please purchase your tickets at the earlier opportunity. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Friday Social Bar dated 23rd September, 2011.

As always, on Saturday 1st October there will be a fancy dress competition open to all, with prizes for the winner and ALL participants. We plan to start the judging at 9.00pm before the younger children fall start designing your costumes NOW!!

Please note that due to Health & Safety, the maximum number of AARTI Plates will be restricted to 50 per day. Please book your Aarti early to avoid disappointment. Price of Aarti is £11 on non-Aatham days and £25 on Aatham (Tue 4th Oct). Please ask at the Front Desk for details.

We look forward to seeing you.

March 2011


Dear Members,
Please find below a downloadable version of our March 2011 Newsletter.

click here to download newsletter

22nd March 2011



After yet another very successful Tournament for GAA London last year, details of this year's event are as follows:

Please note that unlike previous years, this Tournament will be held OUTDOORS and will take place even if it rains on the day. There will not be any grandstand seating. Matches may be viewed only by standing around the side of the pitches.

The Tournament will be held on Sunday 17th April 2011 at:
Goals Soccer Centre
Wakerley Road

Tel: 0116 249 0555

Coach Transport : Depart : 6.30 am - Arrive : 9.00 pm
Pickup and drop off point to be confirmed / advised

The coach cost per person will be £12. This is payable by everybody regardless of age.

Players will receive a subsidy and their coach travel cost will be £4

Initially a 70 seater coach will be booked. A second coach may be booked but only if it can be justified. Unfortunately, if a second coach is not booked then seating will be limited and the seats on the coach will be strictly allocated on the following basis:

1. Players
2. Immediate family (of Players under the age of 18)
3. GAA London Volunteers
4. Other Supporters

The closing date for registering your interest is 01 April 2011. Please contact Ajay by phone or email and your interest will be noted.

Once all the interest has been administered and if seats have been allocated to you, Ajay will notify you. Payment will then need to be made by 08 April 2011 otherwise your seats may be lost.

Decisions by the GAA London Sports Committee on seat allocation are final.

Please contact one of us below if you have any questions.
Ajay Chauhan 07947 354302 -
Rakesh Chauhan 07768 745352

18th March 2011

Mothers Day Mefil & Lunch

Dear Members,

Mothers Day Mefil & Lunch
The GAA London Mahila Mandal is pleased to announce a Mother's Day Mehfil & Lunch at Kenton Hall on:

Sunday 3rd April 2011   (1pm - 7pm)
Delicious home cooked 3 course buffet, including a free Mother's Day drink for all Mums

Live music provided by

Sargam Show

Children up to 10 years old......£5.00
Children up to 2 years old.......Free

Entrance will be strictly by ticket ONLY, so BOOK NOW to avoid disappointment.

Tickets must be booked and paid for in advance.
There will be no sale of tickets at the door on the day.

For further details and tickets, please contact:

Shardaben Pardiwalla 020 8863 9936 or 0773 333 0191

Deadline for purchase of tickets for this event is 29th March 2011.

Please may we kindly ask that you share this information with your family, friends and adopted ‘email buddy’ as we will NOT be sending out a circular.

1st December 2010

Biennial General Meeting

Dear Members,
Please do not forget our Biennial General Meeting will be held at our hall on Sunday December 5th, 2010 from 2.30pm to 6.30pm.
Please arrive promptly to take part in this very important meeting.

Every registered member was sent a letter by post about this last month.

During the BGM seventeen members of the EC and five Trustees will be elected to run and administer the activities of our charity, as governed by the GAAL Constitution. Anyone over the age of 18 and is an Annual, Life Member or Patron can stand for election and be an EC member, any previous EC member can stand to be an EC Office Bearer and you are invited to stand for election if you feel you are able to commit time, effort and ideas to GAAL to benefit our community. Alternatively you can volunteer to help with Sports, Mahila Mandal, Senior Citizens Club, Friday Bar or you may have one of your ideas to start off with?

Currently the EC meets every two weeks on Tuesdays, with the other Tuesday used for maintenance. The EC is split into teams including Trustees and volunteers, who attend to hall hire events. Also we have bar teams which are formed of EC members and hard working volunteers, with the Mahila Mandal playing a very important role.

The newly elected committee will have the task of moving GAA London forward from where it is now and develop Kenton Hall further. It has to be said that GAA London is blessed with a large number of hard working volunteers without whom managing Kenton Hall would be very difficult.

The Custodian Trustees of GAA London play an important role in overseeing the assets of GAA London managed by the EC but also volunteer a great deal of their time to help at events and various sports. The role of the Trustee is becoming more active in the running of GAA London and Trustees will be asked to help with events. You are asked to stand to be Trustee if you feel you are able to contribute your time and effort.

Before standing for election we advise that you read our constitution and also view the Charities Commission guidance document CC3 at :

Please be sure to attend the BGM to help create a bright future for our community. Please also note only those members whose subscriptions are up to date will be allowed to vote in the elections. We would therefore ask that you arrive well before the scheduled start time in order to register and receive your voting cards.

22nd November 2010


Dear Members,
The GAA London is pleased to announce a Children's Christmas Party at Kenton Hall on:
Saturday 18th December 2010
(12 noon - 4pm)

All children up to the age of 10 are welcome to the Children's party. There will be lots of activities and entertainment, including party food and a present from Santa himself!

Merry Christmas Prices for Children's Xmas party are:
- All children 10 years old or under - Price per child - includes Party Food and Present.

£5.00 - Any accompanying Adults and Children over 10 years old. Valid for the Children's Pantomime only

Entrance will be strictly by restricted number of tickets, so please REGISTER & BOOK NOW to avoid disappointment.

Tickets must also be booked and paid for in advance. There will be no sale of tickets at the door on the day.

The Registration deadline for the Christmas party is 12th December 2010.

Following on last year's success we will also be staging a short children's pantomime performance of
Snow White

(A full ADULT version of the pantomime will be staged at alternate times & dates, details broadcast in separate bulletin)

For tickets sales and further details of the
Children's Christmas Party please contact:
Shardaben Pardiwalla on 0773 333 0191

To book your seats or request further information for the
Adults version or panto only
, please contact:
Mani Chauhan of 0844 482 1575

19th November 2010


Dear Members,
SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS PANTOMIME 2010 Following on last year's pantomime success, this year, the GAA London is proud to present:

The Pantomime performances will be staged at Kenton Hall on:

Saturday 18th December at 8.00pm (Doors open 7.30pm)
& also
Sunday 19th December at 4.00pm (Doors opens at 3.30pm)

Tickets Prices are available as follows:
£10 Front Row Seats (LIMITED SEATING)
£7 Premier Seats (LIMITED SEATING)
£5 Standard Seats

   For more info and seating plan please click here   

Booking Line will be open from 10:00am Monday 21st November, 2010. Tickets/Seats will be allocated on a 'First Come First Serve' basis and will be restricted to limited numbers, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

(Please also note that a shorter 'childrens' version of the pantomime will also be staged during the GAAL Children's Xmas Party.)

To book your seats or request further information please contact:
Mani Chauhan on 0844 482 1575

03rd Novrmber 2010


Dear Members,
We are pleased to announce that we will be having our community gathering for the New Year this Saturday 6th November between 5pm - 7pm at our hall.

We hope you will be able to attend with your family and take time to meet and greet fellow community members.

Light refreshments and food have been generously donated by Vijay Parshottam Ramji shall be provided. We express our thanks on behalf of all the community for this generous offer.


18th October 2010


Dear Members,
We are very pleased to announce that GAA London will be entering the annual Mahasaba Pool and Snooker Tournaments, both of which are being held in Leicester.

Tournament dates are:


GAA London wish to build on last year's success where we finished Runner-up in the Pool tournament. In addition the London team also did very well in the Snooker tournament.

The Pool Tournament will be split into the following two categories:
Ladies and 16 & Under
Everybody else

The Snooker Tournament has only one category:

Tournament days as well as our practise sessions are always highly enjoyable and competitive and a great way of meeting other Mochi's.

We will arrange POOL practise sessions at our hall where we have a professional pool table. The practise SNOOKER sessions will be held at a local snooker hall nearer the time of the tournament.

We are also delighted to announce that GAA London have decided to subsidise the cost of the football sessions for the younger members of our community very soon, all the younger players who register for these sessions will qualify for the subsidy please ask one of our sports reps for further details.

If you are interested or have any questions then
please contact one of our Sports Reps (below).
Sundip Patel 07974 806222
Ajay Chauhan 07947 354302

5th October 2010


Dear Members,

We are very pleased to announce that the 5-a-side indoor football is back. The first session will be this Sunday 10th October.
University of Westminster Sports Hall
Harrow, HA1 3TP
(next to Northwick Park hospital)

After yet another highly successful football tournament in April, GAA London became the 12 & Under Winners, the Over 40 Runners Up and the Senior Semi-Finalists.

The Mahasaba football tournament will be held in April 2011. We will compete against other Mochi teams from other centres. The competition will be split into the following five categories.
12 and Under
16 and Under
Over 40

These football sessions are highly enjoyable and competitive and a great way of keeping fit and meeting other Mochi's, so if you are interested just turn up or if you have any questions then please contact one of us (details below).

Cost of the sessions have been kept the same cost as last year:
Age Group Session Cost
12 and under*      1 - 2 pm     £3
Everyone else 2 - 4 pm £4
*The children will be taught basic football skills

We are also delighted to announce that GAA London have decided to subsidise the cost of the football sessions for the younger members of our community very soon, all the younger players who register for these sessions will qualify for the subsidy please ask one of our sports reps for further details.

Please arrive early on the first day as we will need to take your details.

Kindly note that training sessions start promptly on time, so please arrive early. Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.

We look forward to seeing you all there.

Ajay Chauhan 07947 354302
Rakesh Chauhan 07768 745352
Kunal Chauhan 07957 440981

Best regards,
GAA London Sports team

22nd September 2010


Dear Members,
We hope the Hindu Year 2066 was a wonderful year for you and your family. The GAAL Committee and Mahila Mandal would like to invite you to celebrate Navratri at Kenton Hall from 7.30pm to 10.30pm Sunday to Thursday and to 11.00pm on Friday & Saturday, starting from Friday 8th October to Saturday 16th October. Aatham will be on Friday 15th October.

Last year the Navratri celebrations were very popular and on busy days patrons had to be turned away. Therefore, this year Aatham entry will be strictly with a ticket and numbers will be limited. We advise you to buy your tickets in advance to save money and avoid disappointment.

Please note that once the hall is full, for safety reasons, access to the hall and parking area will not be allowed. We also require single occupancy cars to park in Preston Road shoppers car park. Please respect our neighbours and do not park on Woodcock Hill. Also, please be aware disabled parking is limited and cannot be guaranteed.

Tickets prices are as follows:

9 day transferable pass which includes entry for Aatham - £10. You'd be crazy not to have one!

Otherwise, entry charge is £2 per day from Sunday to Thursday and £3 on Friday or Saturday.

Aatham tickets will cost £3 if bought in advance or £5 at the door. To avoid disappointment you are advised to buy your tickets in advance as tickets are limited.

Entry for Senior Citizens over 65 and children under 10 will be FREE (proof of age required).

As always on Saturday 16th there will be a fancy dress competition open to all, with prizes for the winner and first 5 runners up. So start designing your costumes NOW!!

Please be aware of our car sharing policy and on the weekends single occupancy cars will asked to park in Preston Road shoppers carpark, from where there is easy access to the Kenton Hall

Best wishes for Navratri, Best regards,
Executive Committee and Board of Trustees

09th September 2010

Click for more details

Dear Members,
GAA London are privileged to have organised a 7-day narration of the Shrimad Bhagavat from 25th September to 1st October 2010 , followed by Shraadh Bhajans on Saturday 2nd October and a Vishnu Yagna on Sunday 3rd October, 2010. Please click here for further information on the itinerary and timings.

Bhojan Prasad will be served everyday after the Katha and before the Shraad Bhajans. Maha Prasad will also be served on the last day after the Vishnu Yagna.

We humbly ask you to join us at this auspicious occasion in the month of ‘Shraad’ and participate in this revered and time honoured cultural event, which will be hosted at our GAA Kenton Hall, Woodcock Hill, Kenton Harrow, Middlesex, HA4 0SN

We kindly request sponsors and Yajmans for several religious proceedings (click here). If you or your family would like the privilege of performing the daily Katha Puja (as a Mukhya or Sahi Yajman) or dedicate any of the Bhojan Prasad in your family’s name or simply make a small donation, please contact :

Vasantiben Parmar (01923 820071)
Kavita Chauhan (07985 144646)
Mani Chauhan (07779 619079)

As part of the Katha, several stories from the Shrimad Bhagavat will also be re-enacted as small plays by children from our community, acting out the various character roles adorned in elaborate costumes and colourful makeup (see itinerary on flyer). If you would like your children to participate in any of the Katha plays, please contact Kavita Chauhan at the earliest opportunity.

We look forward to your presence and continued support.

6th August 2010


Dear Members,
The Mahila Mandal are proud to announce that for the first time this year, as well as celebrating Nori-Nem, we have decided to also celebrate 'Nag-Pacham' on
Saturday 14th August, at our hall between 3pm and 5pm
To cover the Association's costs, we are charging £3 per person.

 If you would like to join us you will need to let us know by Thursday 12th August, so that food can be prepared accordingly  For further details please contact:
Manisha Parmar 07946 738 751 (

Kind regards
GAA Mahila Mandal

4th August 2010


Dear Members,
Navratri will soon be upon us in two months. We need musicians and singers for this very important Celebration.
Last year our community members proudly provided garba and music, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We wish to maintain that same spirit of community participation again this year and would urge all those who wish to sing or play a musical instrument to come forward quickly.

This highly auspicious celebration will naturaly bring great spiritual boon to all paricipants. Please encourage all youngsters in our community, many of whom we know have musical talent, to join in. Singers, dhol, tabla, keyboard, guitar, violin, drum, flute, and other instrument players please note that we hope to start practice soon on Tuesday evenings.

Please contact Ashwin on 07801 589282.

31st July 2010


Dear Members,
The Mahila Mandal are proud to announce that we will be celebrating 'Nori-Nem' on Wednesday 18th August, 2010 at our hall:

Afternoon session from 1pm to 3pm
Evening session from 5pm to 8pm

To cover the Association's costs, we are charging:

£5 per person
£3 takeaway
Children under 10 are free

Please be advised that as there are limited places, entry will be by tickets only.

Tickets will be available from 1st August, with the closing date for the last application being the 15th August, 2010. (Tickets will available for purchase at the Senior Citizens Event on Tuesday 3rd August)

Take-aways must also be booked in advance.
Please respond as early as possible to avoid any disappointment.

For further details please call one of the following::
Shardaben Pardiwalla 07733 330 191 (
Manisha Parmar 07946 330 191 (

Please may we kindly ask that you share this information with your family, friends and adopted ‘email buddy’ as we will NOT be sending out a circular.

Finally, please help support us in these social events at which we look forward to seeing you.

Kind regards
GAA Mahila Mandal

29th July 2010

Senior Citizens Club

Dear Members,
Due to the success of the last two GAA London Senior Citizens luncheon get togethers, we are pleased to announce that the next Senior Citizens luncheon is going to be held on Tuesday 3rd August 2010, between 11am and 2pm. If you are a senior citizen of our community, we would like to cordially invite you, if you are not a senior citizen then please may we request you to be an email BUDDY of a Senior Citizen who you think may not be registered on email with GAA London and advise them accordingly.

Please can you inform either Rameshbhai M Solanki (tel: 020 8452 3445) or Uttambhai Oza (tel: 020 8205 2526) if you are going to come for lunch, by Sunday 1st August 2010, as food can be prepared accordingly.

We would like to take this opportunity to inform you that this luncheon has been kindly donated by Anilrai and Shardaben Pardiwalla.

On the 3rd August we have arranged a small talk by Mr. Rajenbhai Vakil on our Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Health. He is here from India and since last year he has been writing articles on Mahabharat in Asian Voice. Please can you be present promptly to gain this insight.

Please note the dates for the forthcoming lunches that have been arranged till the end of the year and please mark your calendar accordingly.
Tuesday 21st September 2010
Tuesday 19th October 2010 - Diwali lunch
Tuesday 16th November 2010
Tuesday 21st December 2010 - Christmas lunch

You don't have to be old to come to this luncheon. Young and able people are also invited to come and help us.

Nori-Nem tickets will also be on sale on the 3rd so please come prepared and buy your tickets as this year there will be no entry without a ticket. There are separate tickets for the afternoon meal and the evening meal.

Finally, please can we request that if you are able to provide practical help and advice on such matters as health, fitness instruction, transportation, grant application, etc then this will be most welcome.

Best regards
GAAL Senior Citizens Club

22nd july 2010


Dear Members,

Mahasabha 6 a side Cricket Tournament

London will be entering the annual MSA 6 a side cricket tournament this Sunday 25th July 2010 in Luton. We will be entering 2 teams and all the players are looking forward to the competition.

Please feel free to come and support us (especially as it's not that far!), there will be alot of people from all centres and no doubt will be a fun and exciting day with some excellent cricket on offer.

The competition will start at 10am and will be held at Leagrave Park, off sundon park road, Luton, LU3 2AA. If you are thinking of coming down, please let us know as dinner can be provided but confirmation will be needed before hand (contact details below).

If you have any questions, please contact:.

Kunal Chauhan
07957 440 981
Ishwerbhai - 07932 253 567

Dont forget..... if you are, or know any of the ladies that were interested in joining our rounders team there will also be a practice session taking place this Friday at 7:30pm outside Kenton Hall in the fields.

We will be entering the Mahasabha Rounders 2010 competition this year for the first time and we want all interested girls/ladies to get in touch. The competition will be in Leicester on Sunday 5th September.

If you would like to join the team or attend practice please contact:

Anjali Chauhan

Please pass this information to friends & family who may be interested.

1st July 2010

Senior Citizens Club

Dear Members,
GAA London Senior Citizens are forming their own club to meet regularly at Kenton Hall, with the purpose of promoting activities of benefit to them. If you are a senior citizen of our community then this email is directed at you. If not then please be an email BUDDY of any Senior Citizen you know who is not registered on email with GAA London and advise them accordingly.

The Senior Citizens are meeting for lunch for the first time on Tuesday 6th July 2010 between 11am and 2pm, when a vegetarian lunch will be provided free of charge on this occasion. Further lunch meetings are planned for 20th July and 3rd August.

Please inform Rameshbhai M Solanki on 020 8452 3445 if you are going to come for lunch, by Sunday 4th July 2010, as numbers will be required for ordering food.

Donations are welcome for this worthy cause from members of the GAA London community to help fund the Senior Citizens club, to subsidise food and other activities such as health awareness, fitness, etc.

If you are able to provide practical help such as health advice, fitness instructor, transportation, grant application, etc then this will be most welcome.

Best regards from,
GAAL Senior Citizens Club

25th June 2010

GAA GOLF DAY, Saturday, 17 July 2010

Dear Members,
The GAAL Golf Society has organised a Golf Day on Saturday,
17 July 2010 at
Sutton Green Golf Club, New Lane, Sutton Green, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7QF
Tel: 01483 766 849

After the great success of the Wokefield Golfing weekend we have arranged another golf tournament together with a BBQ afterwards at Little Yarrows, Guilford Rd., Mayford GU2 0SD in the evening for the all inclusive cost of just £55 per player. We would like to encourage ladies to participate in the tournament.

Furthermore, we are also inviting friends and relations of the players to join us for the evening BBQ (from 7.00 pm till late!). The cost for non-playing guests has been set at £20. There will be drinks. We recommend car sharing and having a designated driver!

The registration time is at 10.30am PROMPT.
There will be coffee and rolls before the game.

Air Ref Trophies will be played for!

Since this is a Saturday it will be very popular. There are limited places and anyone interested are encouraged to apply for confirmed bookings by 5th July 2010. Please note that we must have a firm booking as we would require payment for a 'no show'. We will only confirm a booking on payment. We will require payment in full before this date as we will be unable to accept payment on the day

We are proposing the scoring to be under Individual Stableford Rules. More details will be given in due course.

For entry forms and more details please contact the following:

Ramesh Parmar, Rosebay, May Tree Lane, Stanmore, Middx. HA7 3RZ
Mob: 07831 587 495 email: click here

Anil Pardiwalla, 133 Harrow View, Harrow, Middx. HA1 4SY
Mob: 0774 8108 032 email: click here

20th April 2010


Dear Members,
After a very successful Tournament for GAA London last year, results and report of this year's event can be found here:

28th March 2010


GAA Mahila Mandal are proud to announce that we have organised Easter Fayre
on Good Friday 12nd April 2010, see details below:

Easter Fayre

03 February 2010


Dear Members,
After a very successful Tournament for GAA London last year, details of this year's event are as follows:
The Tournament will be held on Sunday 11th April 2010 at:
Aston Arena
Aston Hall Road
B36 7LB

Coach Transport : Depart : 6.30 am   -   Arrive : 9.00 pm
Pickup and drop off point to be confirmed / advised

The approximate cost per person will be £12. This is payable by everybody, including the players, regardless of age.
Initially a 70 seater coach will be booked. A second coach may be booked but only if it can be justified. Unfortunately, if a second coach is not booked then seating will be limited and the seats on the coach will be strictly allocated on the following basis:

1. Players
2. Immediate family (of Players under the age of 18)
3. GAA London Volunteers
4. Other Supporters

The closing date for registering your interest is 19th February 2010. Please contact Ajay by phone or email and your interest will be noted.

Once all the interest has been administered and if seats have been allocated to you, Ajay will notify you. Payment will then need to be made by 26th February 2010 otherwise your seats may be lost.

Decisions by the GAA London Sports Committee on seat allocation are final.

Please contact one of us below if you have any questions.
Ajay Chauhan 07947 354302 -
Kunal Chauhan 07957 440981

22nd January 2010

GOLF 2010

Dear Members,
The GAAL Golf Society has organised a Golf Day on FRIDAY,
26th March 2010 at
Foxhills Golf Centre
Ottershaw, Surrey, KT16 0EL
Tel: 01932 87 20 50

After the great successes of the Golf Days of 2009 we have arranged our first one this year together with a delicious meal afterwards at our Kenton Hall Social Bar in the evening (7.30pm) for the all inclusive cost of:

£50 for GAA member.

£60 for non GAA member.

Furthermore, we are also inviting those friends and relations of the players to join us for the evening meal. These additional meals for non-playing guests have been set at £15 per person.

The refreshments and registration time is at 10.00 am and the first tee-off time is at 11.30 am.

We will play for the EURO BIJOUX SHIELD

Prizes: 1st & 2nd, Guest prize, Longest Drive and Nearest to Pin.

There are limited places and any community members who are interested are encouraged to apply for confirmed bookings by 12 March 2010. After that non-community members will be invited. Please note that we must have a firm booking as we would require payment for a 'no show'.

We are proposing the scoring to be under Individual Stableford Rules. Maximum Handicap 24 (ladies 30). More details will be given in due course.

For entry forms and more details please contact the following:

Ramesh Parmar, Rosebay, May Tree Lane, Stanmore, Middx. HA7 3RZ
Mob: 07831 587 495 email: click here (Tel: 0774 8108 032)

Anil Pardiwalla, 133 Harrow View, Harrow, Middx. HA1 4SY
Mob: 0774 8108 032 email: click here (Tel: 0774 8108 032)

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