Bardai Brahmins started to settle in United Kingdom from 1960s. Some of the early settlers came from India, however, a majority of them came from the East Africa. A considerable number of people settled in UK, mainly in Leicester and London but also in Birmingham, Northampton and Southampton.
By 1973, there were approximately 300 Bardai Brahmins residing in Leicester. In the first instance, all Brahmins were members of one Samaj, namely Leicestershire Brahman Samaj, however as our community started to grow, there became an apparent need to form our own Samaj, under the auspicious of Sri Trikamji Bapu. A list of Bardai Brahmin families was compiled by Shri Mohanlal Thanki and the Late Shri Kishorebhai Pandit to assist with wedding and social programmes, whilst Shri Bhanushanker L Joshi organised a Brahm Bhojan for all Bardai families in 1978.
The spirit of forming our own Samaj was gathering pace and, following consultations between Shri Chhotalal Joshi, Shri Mohanlal Thanki, Shri Bhanushanker Dave and Shri Karsanji Savraj Joshi, a meeting of all Bardai families was held on 20th December 1981 at the St. Saviours Neighbourhood Centre, and here a decision was reached to form our own Samaj – Sri Bardai Brahmin Samaj (Leicester) UK. A Committee was elected and Shri Chhotalal Joshi was elected by the members as the first Samaj President and every year, the Samajs accounts were presented to the members for approval and new committee elected.
In April 1982, the first Samehlan of our Samaj took place in Leicester this included brahm bhojan provided by the Samaj.
Our Samaj organised its first Navratri celebration in 1982. We had very good attendance and everyone took an active interest on this auspicious occasion. The music was initially performed by our members under the guidance of Late Ramjibhai Bhogaita. In subsequent years, it became necessary to hire music groups for this event, but in 1990, this changed with the formation of our group Jai Bardai Melodies with the aim of supporting the Samaj and nurturing/developing the talents of our Samaj members.
On 8th April 1984, our sister Samaj in London called an all U.K. Bardai Brahmin conference, where it was unanimously decided that a national body should be formed whose objective would be to publish a National Directory. A follow-up meeting was held on 8th June 1984, where our Samaj invited Samanjs from London, Birmingham, Northampton and Southampton. This was the start of The Federation Of Sri Bardai Brahmin Samajs UK.
On the 17th November 1985, a draft constitution of our Samaj was approved and adopted. This was revised in the 1990s and our Samaj successfully got our charity status RegNo: 1086583 (Charity registration on 15 May 2001).
In 1989 a grand gathering of all Bardai Brahmins took place at Demonfort Hall in Leicester. This included brahm bhojan and a variety programme. The brahm bhojan was donated by Late Morarjibhai Modha of Super Sweet Mart, Leicester. With an entertaining variety programme which catered for people of all ages, including the Gnati elders, this was an enjoyable event. Everybody felt pleased/happy and realised how nice it is to greet and meet our own Gnatijano.
During the course of two decades, our Samaj youth, Mahilla Mandal, Satsang Mandal have organised various activities and the Samaj is progressing quite well. From the initial membership of 300 individuals, the Samaj has continued to expand to reach a current total of more than 900 members. Over the years, we have produced four membership directories, the last one being in March 1995. After this, First & Second editions of the Federation directory have been published and the Samaj continues to participate fully with the national organisation.
Our Samaj takes an active part in all the activities/functions of the Federation. If one looks at the history of the Federation, most of the committee meetings as well as the functions have been held in Leicester. Over the years each and every Managing Committee of our Samaj has played an active role in fulfilling the meetings or functions which are organised by the Federation whether in Leicester or at distant venues.
Even our Gnatibandhu from abroad appreciate and admire the activities that take place here, considering we live in the Western World. In times of need, we do have a system of helping our own gnati.
In addition to the many worthwhile activities including various religious, cultural and entertainment programs, we do have activities for the youngsters such as sports, dance, drama etc.
Over the years our Samaj has progressed very well and this has been achieved owing to unity and dedication shown by all the members. We have to be grateful to our younger generation who have shown tremendous enthusiasm and to the founding members who sowed the seed that is now bearing the fruits.
Other Links: History of Barda Video Series.