Maher Education Day
NAMASKAR. Ram Ram to all the respected members seated on the stage and to all the Maher brothers in the audience and Sita Ram to all mothers and sisters. My name is Krunal Sukabhai Odedra and my native village is Visavada, Mul-dwarka.
Today we have all gathered here to remember Pujya Maldev Rana Keshwala on his 51st death anniversary on the 1st of January 2017 like every year to celebrate it as “Maher Education Day”.
“Pujya Maldev Bapu”
During the 1950s, our Maher community had very few educated Maher men because most of them were either farmers, some worked at the stone quarries, a few sold vegetables and milk. Maldev Bapu thought that even if basic education was provided to our brothers, Maher community will do wonders. It was after this powerful thought and his long journey and hard efforts that gathered a lot of fund from our community brothers in those days. Pujya Bapu then managed to construct a Maher boarding with good facilities where Maher boys were able to live and study simultaneously. This was the first move towards the development of our community. There were only 7 students in the beginning.
Note: When no one could spare enough time to manage these buildings, an upright and a person with a clean image, Shri Lakhabhai Merubhai Ratiya took the responsibility of managing them. Today we should all bow our head with respect towards him.
“Maher Vidhyarthi Bhawan at Porbandar, Gujarat”
Many Maher brothers went to study in those days thus resulted in their overall development. Maldev Bapu sent a very strong message about the importance of education and Mahers realised that too. Following Bapu’s sincere request, many Mahers finished studying with flying colours and thus became good doctors, teachers, police officers, lawyers, government officers, village sarpanchs etc.
“Maher Maldev Rana Keshwala of Porbandar, Gujarat”
A century ago, if the Kings and other Masters were only uneducated, how could their people get quality education?
Our ancestors went abroad, mostly to Kenya, Uganda, & Tanzania to either work in the fields or as laborers working in the East African railway project. When Maldev Bapu visited East Africa, he requested Mahers there to educate their children and reminded them that you all were left uneducated. It was then that Mahers realised the importance of education and pushed each other to send their children to school, which was a major turning point for our community. Bapu got a lot of donations and help from Maher brothers and thus constructed the ‘Gnāti Bhawan’ and ‘Maher Vidyārthi Bhawan’ in Porbandar so that students can live and study under one roof.
“Pujya Maldev Bapu with Maher Brothers of Kisumu County, Kenya”
“When Maldev Bapu went to Kenya to collect donations for the Maher Vidhyarthi Bhawan, Bapu stayed at this house in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya”
It was during the 1960s when Maher brothers in East Africa constructed a guesthouse in the coastal city of Mombasa for Mahers coming from India to Kenya. So I feel that Bapu’s efforts showed development in different areas in which people succeeded as well. As time passed, our respected elders, Shri Maldevji Odedra and Shri Jethabhai Visana thought of forming a trust for the benefit of everyone and named it ‘Shri Maldev Bapu Maher Educational and Charitable Trust’
“Around 7000 Maher brothers gathered at Porbandar to Welcome Pujya Maldev Bapu who had returned from his African Tour”
It was education only that changed people’s way of thinking towards the society, which helped them reach their career peak through their own skills. Today when our Maher Samaj has gathered here in large numbers, I feel we should remember a few great personalities. Forgive me, if I forget anyone’s name.
Seeking Bapu’s blessings and following his steps, many prominent leaders became Members of Parliament (New Delhi) and Members of the Legislative Assembly (Gandhinagar)
Today we should respect women of all age groups. Today girls are more serious and hard working in different fields than boys are. Two years ago I mentioned the names of two Maher daughters about whom I will talk about today also.
- Sonia Balubhai Odedra – She is a medium-fast bowler who plays first class cricket for the English International Womens Cricket Team. Young girls interested in sports should take inspiration and follow her footsteps.
- Roshni Sundavadra – She works at the United Nations HQ in New York and her boss is Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the U.N. An interesting incident happened when our Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi Ji went there to address the members of the U.N.
- Roshni welcomed our Honourable Prime Minister and greeted him with ‘Jai Shri Krishna’. Hearing this, Modi Ji was delighted and asked her, “What is your name and where are you from in Gujarat?” She proudly replied, “My name is Roshni Sundavadra and I am a Maherani from Porbandar”.
- Maher Girls Raas Group, Leicester (Bardā ni Maher Dikariyu) – This is a cultural dance group based in Leicester, U.K. which has performed on many occasions and have won many awards. They won the 1st Prize during a competition held at De Montfort University where dance groups from different areas had participated. Even the Indian High Commission, London had taken a note of this and congratulated the girls for their outstanding performance.
Similarly many Maher boys and girls are living alone, working very hard and reaching greater heights of their career, which should be noted by everyone. Many of them have become Pilots,Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers and even Sportspersons making our community proud. Today our brothers and sisters live and work from as far as the U.S.A, Canada, the UK, from many E.U countries, many African nations, the U.A.E and other Gulf countries, from New Delhi to Bangalore and from Porbandar to Kolkata in India, Even in Singapore, Japan, Australia and up to New Zealand and the nation of the Fiji islands. Mahers are spread throughout the globe and the only reason behind this is that Pujya Maldev Bapu pushed and inspired Maher brothers to study and educate themselves during the 1950s.
Our elders are all working very hard and contributing immensely for our better future in India and abroad. Many donations are made regularly to construct Schools, Universities and Maher Samaj Boardings in the Gujarat region.
We should all thank them for their time and money invested for a better Maher Samaj.
I would like to request our Maher brothers and sisters living abroad. Once in 2 years, please visit your native village, stay at your ancestral vadi, and spend some time in India. Today’s generation doesn’t have any idea about the real India. They don’t know how their ancestors travelled from Porbandar to East Africa in small boats 6-7 decades ago. We should never forget our history created with a lot of pain and struggle by our ancestors. So please stay connected with our roots.
Always remember 3 things in life:
- ‘Swadharma’ – Never forget our culture, the rich Indian culture. One should keep our traditions tied with us throughout our lives.
- ‘Swades’ – We should never forget our motherland, our roots and always respect our country Bharat (India) and
- ‘Swabhimān’ (Morality) – Always keep our head high with pride of being born a Maher. “Maherpanu” should always be there in our blood but for the benefit of the community as a whole and not on any wrong route.
Brothers and Sisters, we should always read and get inspired by the stories of our Forefathers, Warriors and Legends of our community. Spread their struggles, their inspiring stories. Maldev Bapu took deep interest and struggled a lot to find and treasure the history of Mahers from Rajasthan. He travelled to cities, villages of the state to get detailed information. Maldev Bapu was very strong and healthy even at the age of 75. At this age also, he took part in the ‘Arzi Hukumat’ movement (emergency government) with Mahers during which the soldiers of the Nawab rule used to harass and force people to join their obsession to go with Pakistan. He was a part of this movement where Mahers played a vital role so that Junagadh District remains with India and not Pakistan.
“Maher Maldev Rana Keshwala (seated in the centre) with 20 Maher Jawan Mard who saved a Shankar Bhagwan’s temple from rioters in Amdavad City”
Likewise, there is a Shankar Bhagwān’s temple on Rakhiyaal road in Amdavad City. The responsibility of the total security and safety of this temple and ashram was given to respected Maher Maldev Rana Keshwala of Porbandar. Around 180-200 men belonging to a particular community were planning an attack on this temple. A few Maher men used to work in the textile mills in Amdavad during those days. Maldev Bapu called a meeting with these brave men and told them to take a vow and save the temple from these notorious people and show them that a Kshatriya blood will do anything to save their religion. There was a curfew order in the city but Maldev Bapu changed his attire to a Mataji’s Bhuva (Pujari) to misguide the city police so that he could arrange guns and swords. Maher brothers showed great courage and fought fearlessly and saved the temple from destruction. That night, only 20 Maher Jawān Mard were present there to save the temple.
“Pujya Maldev Bapu in a Sadhu’s attire in order to misguide the City Police so that he could arrange weapons and swords to save Shankar Bhagwan’s temple from rioters in Amdavad”
We the young generation shouldn’t waste Bapu’s struggle and hard work towards the community on bidis, cigarettes, alcohol, tobacco and so on. I request the youth to focus on their career. We have only one life to live, why can’t we make the best of it and do great work.
In the end, community brothers and sisters, we should thank a great man who was born in the village of Gorana and whose maternal family were from Visavada, Sheth Shri Nanjibhai Kalidasbhai Mehta. When he was very young, he spent most of his childhood playing with Maher brothers. It was because of this love for Mahers, he sponsored many families so that they could work and settle in Uganda. We should all thank the Mehta family because during those days, when there were no educational facilities in Porbandar, it was The Mehta Family who constructed a beautiful ‘Arya-Kanya Gurukul’ where many Maher Girls received good quality education for their better future.
“Sheth Shri Danveer Nanji Kalidas Mehta”
Finally, I would like to thank Shri Bharatbhai Maldevji Odedra, Honorable Ex-Member of Parliament from Porbandar, who believed in me and gave me this opportunity to address the Maher Samaj at Porbandar on this occasion today.
Speech at Maher Samaj Chhaya, Porbandar on 01/01/2017 byKRUNAL SUKABHAI ODEDRA (Malde Jessa Family)