Vibrant and industrious, members of the Gujarati community are known for their business acumen. They are equally well known for the grand Navratri festivities that they organise during the nine-day Dasara festival in whichever part of the world they live in. The ‘Garba' and ‘Dandia' dance forms are trademark Gujarati fare.
Ubiquitous, the community gels with ease among the local people in whichever part of the country they reside in and Hyderabad is no exception.
A close-knit community, Gujaratis, particularly the affluent class, also have a strong sense of social service. Many of them are involved in various charitable activities to help the needy not only from their own community, but also those from outside the community as well. Granting educational scholarships, providing medical assistance, or performing marriages of the children of the not so well-off are some of the activities, which members of the Gujarati community are involved in.
In the city the community provides education for a nominal fee of Rs. 200 per month for students from all communities at the Gujarati High School, Secunderabad. “Every year the members from the community offer scholarships to the deserving candidates to pursue higher education, mainly professional courses. The money for the scholarships is raised from within the community members and no outside donation is accepted,” says Amar Shah, proprietor of Shah Traders in Ranigunj.
Spread over the city, the community comes together during Holi celebrations and for the Navaratri festival. The Gujarati Samaj also organises various cultural events under the banner ‘Virasat' once a year for the benefit of the community members. The Samaj had roped in Gujarati artiste and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner Bhikhudan Gadhvi for ‘Virasat' 2012. Mr. Gadhvi performed at Gujarati Samaj centres in Hyderabad and Secunderabad recently.
“These performances are organised every year and the community members can attend them free of cost. The main motto is to keep the community members in touch with their heritage,” Mr. Shah says.
So away from the land of ‘Dhoklas', ‘Phepdas' and ‘Garba', how do the community members select life partners?
Mr. Shah says Gujaratis prefer to get their life partners from their ancestral hometowns. “Though we do not have a problem in settling down anywhere in the world, we prefer to go back to our hometown to search for partner for our children. There are matrimonial agencies and even the Samaj does its bit in finding the right person for our children,” adds Mr. Shah.