Gujaratis originating from the Gujarat state in India, migrated to the UK from India and East Africa in the 1960’s. Quite a number of them had settled in Dudley in the West Midlands. As the number of Gujarati residents grew in Dudley, the Gujarati community felt that there was a need to form a “Gujarati Organisation” here in Dudley with a view to promote and celebrate social, cultural and religious activities.
A meeting was arranged on 28th June 1970 for the folks of the Gujarati community residing in Dudley with an interest in religious, cultural and social activities. 27 men attended the meeting at 15 Queens Cross, Dudley.
The discussion was based on the need of the Gujarati Community residents and to facilitate religious, cultural and social activities. An ad-hoc committee of 11 members was formed at the meeting.
After informing the Gujarati Community residents about the formation of the Committee, a further meeting was arranged on 1st July 1970 and 19 men attended the meeting at the residence of Shree Harkishanbhai K Mistry at 19 Nelson Road, Dudley.
The discussion at the meeting focused on community activities and with the agreement of the attendees at the meeting, the name “GUJARATI SOCIAL ASSOCIATION” was established and the following were elected on the committee to organise religious, cultural and social get-togethers to serve the Gujarati Community in Dudley, Netherton and Brierley Hill;
- President: Shree Harkishanbhai Karsanbhai Mistry
- Secretary: Shree Govindbhai Kumbharia
- Treasurer: Shree Maganbhai Vallabhbhai Patel
And to deal with the Financial affairs;
- Shree Kanjibhai Lallabhai Patel
- Shree Gosaibhai Unkabhai Patel
A “Constitution Committee” was also elected to prepare a Constitution for the Organisation.
Following the election of the Committee, the Gujarati religious, cultural and social activities increased each year. The committee also changed year after year and the following Presidents voluntarily served the community;
- Shree Harkishanbhai Karsanbhai Mistry
- Shree Govindbhai Kumbharia
- Shree Maganbhai Premabhai Patel
- Shree Ramanbhai Bhanabhai Patel
- Shree Natwarbhai Muljibhai Patel
- Shree Subhashbhai Dahyabhai Patel
- Shree Rambhai Jerambhai Patel
- Shree Chaganbhai Naranbhai Patel
- Shree Dahyabhai Ravjibhai Patel
- Shree Hasmukh Shantubhai Patel
- Shree Balvantbhai Haribhai Patel
- Shree Vijay Jitubhai Patel
- Shree Pravin Chaganbhai Patel
In those early years, the main task of the committee was to enrol new members, collect fees and organise various Gujarati cultural and religious activities.
By the late seventies and early eighties, most of the members of the Gujarati community had bought their own houses and were beginning to settle down and think more of the constructive use of their spare time and their family’s future.
Having a Community Centre with Temple and Hall facilities was the dream of the Organisation but it was an expensive dream. However, with a lot of hard work, dedication and patience and by the grace of God, the Organisation was fortunate to purchase a property at Hope Street, Dudley that would be suitable for the community needs.
After taking full possession of the premises on 27th May 1983 and making some alterations, the Opening Ceremony (Mangal Pravesh) was arranged on an auspicious day on 27th September 1983.
Shree Maganbhai Premabhai Patel, being the highest bidder, had the privilege of performing the opening ceremony with her daughter Ansuya carrying the “Kalesh” on her head and entering the premises.
Another intention was to build a Temple within the premises. A temporary “praying” facility was therefore arranged on the first floor of the premises.
It transpired that a “Bhoomi Poojan” (blessing of the land that the premises was built on) ceremony had to be performed before establishing the Temple facility. The Bhoomi Poojan was performed on the auspicious day on 27th August 1983 by Priest Thakorbhai together with Shree ShivRam Shastri and Shree Rajguru.
The sponsor for the Bhoomi Poojan ceremony was Shree Kanjibhai Lallabhai Patel and his wife Shreemati Shantaben. All the costs related to the Bhoomi Poojan including Priest Thakorbhai’s expenses were donated by Shree Kanjibhai Lallabhai & Family.
By the grace of God, the Temple for regular worship was established in the upstairs area of the building for daily religious rituals. The Temple occupies approximately 15% of the total building space. The rest of the building space including the main hall and kitchen area was used for cultural and social events including; Weddings, Engagements, Navratri, Diwali & New Year celebrations, Youth, Women and Senior Citizens activities, etc.
The inauguration (Murti Pran Pratishtha of Shree Radha Krishna, Shree Gurudev Dattatri Bhagwan, Gayatrima, Shree Ganeshji and Shree Hanumaanji) was performed on 17th, 18th and 19th May 1991. This was a truly memorable occasion full of joy and celebration for the Hindu Community and for the majority of inhabitants of Dudley MBC, who, whatever their ethnic background live together in peace and harmony.
The establishment of the Community Centre and Temple has enhanced the lives of all the Hindu Community in Dudley MBC.
Since the opening of the Centre, all the major religious and cultural events such as; Maha Shivratri, Holi, Ram Navmi, Hanuman Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi, Gayatri Yagna, Janmastmi, Navratri, Diwali, New Year’s Day, Jalaram Jayanti, Guru Dattatreya Jayanti, etc. have been celebrated on an annual basis.
On the cultural side, many of our members participate in various local events where the young dancers and musicians perform Indian folk dancing and music.
Our Community has a wealth of artistic, cultural, and spiritual values that are now increasingly being shared and appreciated by other communities.
Our Community, with the facilities at Shree Gujarati Hindu Centre/Shree Krishna Temple provides means not only to sustain our Community’s cultural identity & values and heritage, but also offers the opportunity to others to share our values and to contribute to the objectives we all share; the creation of a peaceful and prosperous Community in which every individual and family, regardless of their race or their religion can develop their full potential and make the fullest contribution to the community’s cause.