Vahora Patels are mainly populous in the region north of the river Narmada in the Bharuch and Vadodara districts of Gujarat, India. This fertile belt, suitable for growing cotton, is called Kanam. Hence, in some circles, the Vahora Patels of this region are known either as Bharuchi or Kanamiya Vahora.
Bharuchi Vahora Patels are an ambitious and adventurous community. During the British Raj, a considerable number of them migrated from Gujarat, India and settled in various parts of Africa (Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe), where the present Bharuchi Vahora Patel population is the fifth generation since the advent of their forefathers in these countries.
Bharuchi Vahora Patels have also settled in America and Canada for over five decades.
Migration of Bharuchi Vahora Patels in Britain started in late 1950 and the present young generation is the fourth generation of early settlers living in various towns and cities across Britain.
Bharuchi Vahora Patels have also settled in Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia either for employment or business. In addition, Australia, Denmark, France, Mauritius, New Zealand, and Portugal also have small populations of Bharuchi Vahora Patels living there.
Bharuchi Vahora Patels are a very close knit community. They have preserved their unique identity through centuries. They have a distinct culture which is based on Islam. They also have their own customs, norms and traditions.
Unfortunately there is no comprehensive, authentic book or record of the history of this vibrant dynamic community.
There are, however, some documents containing useful information. One such document is the “Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Surat and Broach” published in 1877 and the another document is the “Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Gujarat Population: Musalman and Parsi” published in 1899. These documents give detailed information about the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community as recorded by British officials in the late nineteenth century during the British Raj.
In 1954, Ibrahim Dadabhai “Bekar”, a well-known writer, poet and editor of a Gujarati magazine called “Patel Mitra” (later on renamed “Insaan”), published the “Patel Directory” with sketches of some of the outstanding members of the Vahora community of his time.
In 1984, Deepak Bardolikar (Musaji Isabji Hafizji) published a brief history of Sunni Vahoras. This is a valuable source of information about Bharuchi Vahora Patels. The second enlarged edition of this book was published in 2011.
In 1999, Deepak Bardolikar also published “Vahora Vibhutio” (Dignitaries), which records the achievements of Bharuchi Vahora Patels in various fields.
In addition to this, there are many elderly people in their 70s and 80s in the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community who are a rich source of oral history. But unfortunately this had not been recorded by anyone, until now.
In 2010, Yakub Patel Sarodi (advocate) who resides in London felt the need for a history of Bharuchi Vahora Patels. He talked to his friend Ismail Kaduji, originally from Nabipur, about the project who invited us (editors and co-editors of this book) to his residence in Salford, near Manchester, for further discussions.
The meeting which lasted for an hour and a half arrived at the following conclusions:
1. It is crucially important to write a well-researched, authentic history of the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community. Such a book will provide information regarding our traits and make the future generations aware of our roots.
2. An awareness of our past, present and future will create a sense of continuity, strengthen the bond between generations, and preserve our identity as Bharuchi Vahora Patels.
3. The Bharuchi Vahora Patels residing in foreign lands (Diaspora) will feel close to the mainstream Vahora community back home in India. At present Bharuchi Vahora Patels are a fairly close knit community. A historical sense will help keep the social structure intact and prevent alienation and disintegration.
4. This book will help to preserve the value-system, traditions, norms and customs of the community. These values will be disseminated and help with the socialization of our children.
5. This book will contain information regarding our present educational, economic and political position. We will know where we stand, what we have achieved in these fields and where we lag behind.
6. Through a survey, this book will identify the problems of the community and discuss the probable causes. This will help to resolve the problems. The information can also be used to prepare an action plan for uplifting the community.
At the end of the meeting, we agreed to undertake the very difficult and time consuming task of gathering and compiling the information from various sources and present it in the form of a book to the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community in India and also to the large number of Bharuchi Vahora Patels settled in various countries all over the world.
When we decided to go ahead with the project, we were aware of the Herculean nature of the task. We knew that we would need plenty of source material to write an ambitious book like the history of Bharuchi Vahora Patels. Such material and references may not be easily available in Britain and to obtain it from India may not be easy either.
Despite these apprehensions, we felt that this project was very crucial to the welfare of our community and must be implemented. We decided to make all possible efforts to collect the information and present it in the form of an authentic document covering the past, present and future of the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community.
This book does not claim to be a fully comprehensive history of Bharuchi Vahora Patels. Although we have taken the best possible care, to some readers the information compiled in the book may seem to be incomplete or in some respects it may seem to be inaccurate. Nonetheless, it is a modest effort to give the Bharuchi Vahora community, including the younger generation, their first book of their history.
We would appreciate it if the readers draw our attention to any gaps or inaccuracies or incomplete information in the book. Your suggestions and any additional information provided by you will enrich the second edition of the book in future. This is only the beginning of the documentation regarding the Bharuchi Vahora Patels. This may inspire others to collect more detailed information and come out with a more comprehensive history of our community.
A momentous task such as this could not have been accomplished single-handedly. We have received help and support from a number of people in the compilation of this book.
From start to finish, Kamal Patel, “Kadam Tankarvi” took great interest in this project, made valuable suggestions and edited the chapter on Bharuchi Vahora Patels in Preston.
Ismail Khunawala of London supplied source materials and diligently prepared the chapter on Bharuchi Vahora Patels in London.
Yusuf Sidat from Leicester took great pain in collecting information regarding the Bharuchi Vahora community living in Leicester. Adam Davi and Iqbal Dhoriwala provided the information for compiling the chapter on Dewsbury, Babar Bambusari on Blackburn, Azmat Khandhiya on Birmingham, Babu Ghodiwala on Lancaster and Ayub Nabipurwala on Manchester.
Ali Adam Bhim provided the information on the Bharuchi Vahora community in the USA.
Ayyub Miyanji prepared the chapter on the Bharuchi Vahora Patels in Canada.
Aziz Tankarvi, a renowned writer and journalist, collected information regarding the mainstream Bharuchi Vahora Patel community in Gujarat, India and edited the chapter that includes the problems facing the community today and how they could be resolved.
Many elders in the community have provided the details for this book either through face-to-face interviews or by talking to us on the telephone. Some young people spared their time to complete a questionnaire prepared by us on the perceived problems of our community.
We sincerely thank each and every one who has helped in gathering or providing the information and supporting the project.
May Allah make this book a useful source of information and inspiration for the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community and their present and future generations living in all the four corners of the world.