Rise and Glory
Rise and Glory (287 pages, PDF download – 2MB)
History of Halari Visa Oshwals
By Rati Dodhia [Email address: history #AT# oshwal-usa.org - replace #AT# with @ ]
Halari Visa Oshwals of America
© All the copyrights reserved by Rati Dodhia
Published by Rati Dodhia, 2005 A.D.
In memory of my parents and my wife Indu’s parents:
Late Shri Lalji Khimji Shah and Shrimati Amratben Lalji Shah
Late Shri Fulchand Karamshi Shah and Shrimati Deviben Fulchand Shah
Who were part of the group of early pioneers who sacrificed so much for their families and the community.
FOREWORD (by Satish P. Shah)
This book, “ History of Halari Visa Oshwals “ in English by Dr. Ratilal Dodhia, provides information about our origin, hardships our ancestors faced and how they overcame them, migration to various places, entrepreneurship and traditions. Many people have written about our origin, settlement in Halar and migration to East Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada, but this is the first comprehensive document in English. It is divided in four parts: Part I deals with the origin of Oshwals in Rajasthan, India; Part II deals with the migration of Oshwals in Cutchh; Part III deals with the migration of Oshwals from Cutchh to Halar region of Jamnagar District of State of Gujarat, India, and Part IV deals with rise and glory of Halari Oshwals since the beginning of 20th century.The Oshwal community was founded 70 years after Lord Mahavir’s nirvana (i.e. Vikram Savant 400 or 457 BC) in the city of Osiya (the name ‘Oshwal’ is derived from the name of the city), which is located about 32 miles from Jodhpur in State of Rajasthan, when some people from a warrior caste (Kashtriya) were converted to Jainism. Because of religious and political persecutions, and difficult economic conditions, a large contingent of Oshwals moved from Rajasthan to Sindh (which is now in Pakistan) around tenth century while some moved to Punjab and Cutchh. Again the conditions in Sindh became hostile for Oshwals so a mass migration of Oshwals from Sindh to Cutchh took place in sixteenth and seventeenth century. Some of them, after a stay of merely 25 years, moved to Halar with Jam Rawal. The families of Jam Rawal and Rao Khengarji who had Kingdoms in Cutchh were feuding and to avoid more blood shed, Jam Rawal moved to Kathiawad/ Saurastra in circa 1520 AD. Some Oshwals joined him because they were afraid that Rao Khengarji would not treat them well. Because of very short stay in Cutchh, not much information about the Oshwals who first settled in Cutchh and later moved to Halar is available.
The history of Halari Visa Oshwals begins from the period when Jam Rawal conquered several small kingdoms in Kathiawad and formed a vast kingdom with Jam Khambhalia, and later Jamnagar, as its capital. He provided land for settlement of Oshwals in 52 villages of Halar region. Once again, Oshwals in Halar region faced adverse environment as the land and the weather conditions were not conducive for agriculture. Therefore some people went to other parts of India mainly Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Madhya Pradesh and Hydrabad. At the end of nineteenth century a few young men ventured and migrated to Madagascar and East Africa. Halari Oshwals continued to migrate to East Africa until 1950’s. When the three East African countries became independent in early 1960’s, indigenous nationals of these countries were encouraged to take over small- and mid-sized businesses owned by Indians including Halari Oshwals. Most of the Halari Oshwals moved to the United Kingdom and a few re-settled in India. The number of Halari Oshwals in the United Kingdom has continued to grow as migration from East Africa has continued for several reasons such as better opportunities both in business and professional fields and better education facilities. In early 1960’s, a small number of professional Halari Oshwals from India and East Africa started settling in the United States of America and Canada and the number of Halari Oshwals in these countries is growing. Halari Oshwals are also settling in Australia and other parts of the world for better opportunities. The last century has been full of glory for the Halari Visa Oshwal community. The community has prospered because of its tradition of hard work, diligence and caring for others. We have been fortunate to have several leaders and philanthropists with the vision to improve the quality of life for Oshwals. They supported building of educational, social and medical institutions in India, Africa and the United Kingdom.
It has been not an easy task for Dr. Rati Dodhia to write the book while working full time in his profession because most of the background material for the book had to be obtained from India, East Africa and the United Kingdom. I sincerely hope that other Halari Oshwals will follow Dr. Rati Dodhia’s example and make sure that they record all the information they have about their ancestors and their own accomplishments so that the future generations would have better appreciation of our culture and traditions, and take pride in our heritage. Dr. Rati Dodhia was born on 15 March 1936 in Nairobi, Kenya, and did high school education in Nairobi. He studied medicine in India and after practicing a few years in Kenya he went to the United States of America for postgraduate studies in Pathology. He presently resides in Lincoln, Rhode Island with his wife, Indira (daughter of Fulchand Karamshi of Nairobi). He has two sons Rahul and Sanjay, one daughter, Anu, and four grand children. He has been an active member of the Jain Center of Greater Boston and was President of the Center for two years. It was the first Jain Center to start the Jain Pathshala for the young people. And was the first Center to publish the Pathshala books on Jain Religion for children in English written by Dr. Rati Dodhia. During Jaina Convention in Toronto Canada in 1997, he received a recognition Award for leadership in promoting Jainism by Federation of Jain Associations in North America.
Satish Panachand Bharmal Shah (Gudhka)
4648 Hinton Drive
Plano, Texas 75024, USA
PREFACE (by Rati Dodhia)
In late 1970’s Keshubhai Chandaria asked me to get the volume of postdoctoral thesis on Halari Visa Oshwals written by John Irwing Zarwal. It was very fascinating. First time I read the history of my community written in English by a foreigner. I was born in Nairobi Kenya in 1936 AD. Reading the thesis made me realize that how ancient and rich culture my community represented. It made me proud to have such rich heritage and be part of the present evolution. Ever since, it has become my passion to learn more about my roots. Over the years I have read many books, articles written in journals, the souvenirs published by my community on special occasions and stories told by elders. All these brought back to me my personal experiences while I was growing up in Kenya and while I was studying in India.My community which in olden times exerted much influence and power in commerce and trade, occupied important administrative and military posts with many rulers and one time wrote authoritative books on grammar, mathematics and medicine had fallen down so low that often they did not have enough to eat and they were ridiculed by their own affluent brothers. Their contribution to the cultural heritage of India is immeasurable.Most of the history of Halari Visa Oshwals, about their social structure, customs and religion in English is written by Western scholars, which are not easily available to a layperson.
Many people of my age are not aware of the true history. Most of the younger generation, as they are not well versed in Gujarati or other Indian languages, have very little or no knowledge of our history. I felt duty bound to write this book to preserve the rich heritage and the saga of downfall and rise of my community not only for me but also for my generation and for future generation. This has been a very rewarding project for me. I have come to know so much about my community. I am thankful to many people without their help I would not be able to finish the project.
I am very much thankful to Ratibhai Chandaria (My brother in law), Keshubhai and Sobhag Dodhia (My two brothers) for procuring various books and articles. I am very grateful to Hansrajbhai Gudhka of London who kindly made available all the 25 articles about Oshwal’s history written in Gujarati by his father Somchand Ladha Gudhka, which were published in an Oshwal magazine of Mumbai.
My friend Satish P. Shah, without his inspiration, supervision and very valuable suggestions it would not have been possible for me to complete this project. There are not enough words to express my gratitude to him.
I am deeply indebted to Dr Paul Marett retired professor of History for editing the manuscript and offering many valuable suggestions and comments.
I am thankful to Mayur Gudka for creating the maps and Paresh Shah and Amitabh Sinha for preparing this manuscript ready for printing.
I must admit that by no means this is a complete history. I know there are many heroes, pioneers, community leader, torchbearers and philanthropists besides the people I have mentioned in this book who have done so much for my community. I am unable to mention their names in this book because of lack of information. If in future I am able to get information on these people and if I publish second edition of this book I will make sure that their biographies are included.
I would fail in my duty if I forget to offer my sincere thanks to all my good friends for giving me timely help in one form or the other in completion of this project. I have done my best to eliminate the errors and have tried my best to make sure that everything written in book is authentic. If unknowingly I have overlooked any mistake or hurt any ones feelings please forgive me (michhami dukdum).
12 Mitris Blvd.
Lincoln RI 02865, USA
All right reserved by the author. However the material in the book may be used for educational purpose, or in the case of quotations embodied in the books, articles or reviews.