RAMKOR BAI & RATNA BAI – Two Noble Ladies Who Have Donated The Building Which is Today The Dakshina Gujarathi Khedawal Samaj Building.
Sometime during 11th Century the on-sought and invasion of Gujarat by Md. Ghori and Gazni, unsettled the peaceful existence in general and particularly the Baj-Kedawal community of Gujarat. The menacing hordes and sack of Somnath at once became a fore-warning and the Baj-kedawal community moved down south and settled near the vicinity of River Thamiravarni (Presumably, their ancient habitat according to some Gujarat historians of the community’s migration from south). Thirunelveli town and the temple precincts became their abode almost 900 years ago.
Near-by Tuticorin (Tutukodi) where Pearl fishing was a flourishing trade attracted this community. Before long the whole community monopolized the pearl trade besides Gem-trading and cloth merchandise, within a space of time. Consequently they became so affluent that they had surplus money for banking and allied business. Forging an integrating force catering to the needs of rich Zamindars, petty chieftains, small and scattered kingdoms, in the south, this community soon established a reputation for their charitable disposition and philanthropy. The Nelliappar and Kanthimathi temple were fully adorned in shape of jewels, Vahanams for the temple festive occasions. Many Silverware and Pooja articles were their major contribution.
Expanding their trade tendencies up North, Madurai, Thirumangalam, Trichy, Tanjavur and Tirupathi. Became their permanent settlement.
Establishment of Fort St. George and birth and growth of Madras city, attracted a more enterprising section of the Community, who settled down in Sowcarpet again near the Sri Ekambareshwara Temple area and Agraharam besides some families directly coming from Gujarat and settling down here.
Soon contact with merchants of the Fort and local traders gave them Social security and Economic growth. This community made their mark more as Diamond merchants. M/s. T.R. Tawker & Sons rose to be a national Jeweler Institution. One another Tawker family created many trusts in Agraharam with an important an Ayanavaram called the Tawkers chattram Trust, managed by the above family and its successors. Two pious ladies of the family, Smt. Ramkaur Bai and Smt. Ratna Bai after seeing their full years well spent, embarked on an almost impossible pilgrimage to Varanasi (When transport and communication were primitive) and returned with Two large sized Lingams to be consecrated in their Charitable Institutions).
One Lingam was installed at Sri Kashi Viswanath-Visalakshi at Ayanavaram the other Lingam became the Chief idol along with Sri Balaji in the small shrine at 448, Mint Street, which was named Mota Uttara, and their express wish was that daily worship of deities be observed, and the above premises be utilized as the first abode of those hailing from Sojitra and other towns of Gujarat who had come down South for eking out their livelihood- a first step to set up their hearth and home on their sojourn south. Similarly another building called Nanna Uttara was donated for a later day emigrants from Sojitra.
Thus is the History of Mota Uttara which gave first success to the first emigrants from Chorotar, has a long history to record in the course of 200 years. Besides the above building another at Eakambareswar Agraharam was donated by the above Donors.
Successive generations of the above two ladies held the reins of office and managed the Mota Uttara with the zeal of a new cherished Ideal. Lack-luster set in and the elder male members of some families occupied this place as their recreation resort and thus Mota Uttara saw its dull days. Among the religious activities Ganesh chatturthi alone shone as a highlight. Twenty-one nights Puja offerings and the last day immersion of Lord Ganesh in the Sri Ekambareshwar temple tank formed a fine climax and the whole community was witness of the annual pageant.
A family whose first abode was Mota Uttara felt it imperative to at least take the management and upkeep of the small shrine and that History of Mota Uttara.
Sri. Balakrishna Jethram Davey inspired by Sri Nandalal Davey his paternal uncle and with a band of likeminded workers girded up their loins, and made good for lost time and thus Navaratri celebrations became as annual feature VIPs of the khedawal community assembled almost every night, particularly, in large numbers on Astami and Navami days and participated in the celebrations with zeal and Fervor. This festival was always a looked-forward-to, event at the conclusion of the session. This get-to-gether session of all the elders and VIPs was a sight to be always remembered and cherished.
During this period the management of Mota Uttara, was vested in the hands of last line of descendants of the above family. Poverty compelled them to sell a property belonging to Mota Uttara charities in Ekambareshwar Agraharam to M/s. Gokul Das and Jamuna Das & Co. The community protested and the first meeting of the Khedawal community was convened and a large section of this community disapproved this sale and compensation was demanded. Sri. T. Nanu Shankar Tawker and Sri. Krishnaji Trivedi advocate were deputed to represent the case of the unrevealed sale to M/s. Gokul Das Jamuna Das & Co., and thus 24, Bommu Chetty Street became a compensated property of Mota Uttara Trust.
This meeting resolved that the management of Mota Uttara affairs be vested with the Community and empowered a constituted commity to take charge of the movable and immovable properties of the above private trust. Thus the Motta Uttara and Bommu Chetty Street house became the community trust.
Sri Balakrishna Davey ably assisted by his good old friend Sri Hari Shankar Davey with his sons Sri Lakshimishankar Davey and Sri B. Venkatesh Davey as assistants saw the bright lights of Mota Uttara affairs. It goes to the credit of Lashimishankar Davey and his good friend Sri Sharkarlal Kashinath Davey who made it appoint to go to door to door collections during Navarathri celebrations. Cordially inviting the community members to participate in the navarathri festival.
After Balakrishna Davey’s death Sri Lakshmishankar Davey took office and with a new committee constituted with himself becoming Secretary cum Treasurer. The management of the Mota Uttara went into a new phase of identity. Sri P Venkatesh Davey was a silent strong influencing person of Mota Uttara affairs till he became inform. The other members who formed Trust committees from time to time are appended elsewhere.
In the meantime Mota Uttara Building was fast becoming an old structure and needed immediate repairs. Donations were called for and rest of expenditure was meted out by the Secretary cum Treasurer out of his personal funds. The repairs were carried out assuring a lease of life for the building for a further the period 20 years. The short-fall was slowly adjusted out of the rents collected from the new shop created on the frontage of the building. His brother Sri B. Venkatesh Davey was a silent worker who ably assisted his elder brother in the management of Mota Uttara affairs. Sri Lakshimeshankar Davey may take legitimate pride with sense of gratification in seeing that the annual Navarathri celebrations went off without a stop even during the Second World War period when our whole community had evacuated to their respective native places. In this his two sons L Subhraya Davey and L Rajaram Davey assisted him to carry out the annual festival.
On his demise, his son Sri L Subhoraya Davey who was an understudy of his erstwhile father took charge with his uncle Sri B Venkatesh Davey as his guiding mentor and managed the affairs of Mota Uttara till the historic day of framing the constitutation of Mota Uttara charities, dawned. The old guard guiding the constitutation format ably drafted by Sri Rampant Davay advocate at once became the statute book. Indeed new face in the Mota Uttara annuals was in the offing.
The Constitution was incorporated under the able chairmanship of Sri S R Kotadia. A new name christened as “THE DAKSHINA GUJARATHI KEDAWAL SAMAJ” with a board of administrators elected every year to manage the Mota Uttara’s affairs, as a managing body under Mota Uttara auspices came into being. The role of Mr. S. J. Davey in this connection was Commendable.
The changing phase with youth and old age well-blended were in quick action, and before long the old monument saw its last days and the first lap of demolition was in the offing. Sri S. Venkatesh Davey applied the first crowbar and turning the first sod we gave a good and major hand in the erection of a new building.
The foundation stone for the new edifice was laid by Sri. T. Balakrishna Mehta. It was a courageous act on the part of Sri S. Gangadhar Trivedi who took upon himself the bold decision of demolishing and reconstruction with a low ebb bank balance. Hot sun was his lot while the building was rising in its stories. A generous and fabulous donation of R. 10,000 from Guajarati Young men’s Association gave a great fillip to the adventurous spirit displayed by Sri Gangadhar Trivedi and his Band of workers which included Sri. R.S. Davey and Sri. R.K. Davey.
The auspicious hour, a band of good workers including Sri. S. Venkatesh Davey (the male front), under the leadership of Sri. Gangadhar Trivedi with Smt. Sarada M. Davey and her band of workers forming the female front soon saw the rising of the new structure. Fund raising through dramatic activity with a responsive monetary contribution from among our community and well-wishers, quickened the pace of construction activity. It may not be out of place to record here that Smt. M. Sarada Davey while attending to her house-hold chores spared her time for supervising the concrete laying of the up-coming building.
The Engineering skill of Sri. N.R. Dave and the deft workman-ship of his labour team had its telling effect. Floor after floor came up with spacious halls inter-spread within, to the wonderment of the passersby.
The small shrine designed on the Anisole architecture was soon planned and Sri. Valmikinathan and his band of especially skilled artisans brought out this small temple complex in no time. The Panchayat Pratista with Lingam Kashi visvanath in the middle centre, surrounded by Sri. Surya, Sri. Ganapathi, Sri. Kashi Visalakshi and Sri Balaji were consecrated with and collaborate Kumbabishekam. The entire cost of the Pooja Graha as contributed by the ladies of our community The combined efforts of Smt. Sarada V. Davey and Smt. Sarada M. Davey in going door to door collections bore single fruits, complementary words were expressed by Their Holiness Sri Shankaracharya of Kanchi peet, Sri Shankaracharya of Sarada peeth, and Sri Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Peeth blessing the community and extolling the Prathista of the Panchayat shrine to enable one to pray, contemplate and meditate in their own community premises. Their Holiness had expressed their gratification, at the women folk coming forward for such a noble and laudable cause. They pertinently observed that the cherished ideals of two grand old ladies became a continued factor in the hands of the ladies of the community. In passing they had a fore-telling-comment that the welfare of the community was quite assured in the installation of the Panchayat shrine and the connected religious activities.
With social activities upper-most in the mind the Board of Administrators have laid particular accent on their religious and spiritual growth of the community. To this end the management is striving hard for fulfillment.
Accordingly marriage parties have yielded in a steady income which has gone a long way in helping, alleviating, and the less fortunate and under privileged among our community. Educational fees, text book purchases medical bill and monetary stipends to help many a poor family in easing their financial constraints. Form another substantial aid. A unique feature if this old community settled down in the Southern region of India is that, it has completely identified itself with South India in its culture customs, manners, and food habits. With the strong base of the native culture of Gujarat this Guajarati Khedawal community has happily blended its social fabric with other communities residing on this side of the land. The yester-year generations were linguists, Telgu, Tamil, Kannada and Rajasthan being spoken or written with Telgu as the first language of the community since North Madras (Chennai) was a Telgu speaking domain. Later English became the language of communication.
The present day generation is fully conversant with Tamil spoken as well as written. They have donned the Tamil mantle adequately, getting distinction in their scholastic and collage tic careers.
Summing up, this community has adopted all the best of all South India way of life. Looking back on the recorded history of this Guajarati Khedival community who’s charitable as a hall-mark of the communities’ way of life, whose charities extended from Tirunelveli to Hyderabad? Today excepting some charities and trusts which are managed efficiently a major portion has been lost to the antiquity of time whose managements got vested in the then District Board, later to be merged with the main stream of the later day Government with chances of rehabilitation a remote possibility.
The cycle being at a low ebb a major part of the community is a commuter community, with a handful commercially conscious,
The Board of Administrators is be holden to all who have contributed their best to the welfare of this Guajarati community and sincerely hope that continued co-operation would be the under-current for many more prospective social activities under the Samaj’s Banner,
Source: Souvenir – D.G.K. Samaj