The Establishment of Shree Prajapati Association Leicester
During 50s, 60s and 70s many of our members migrated from East Africa and India to settle in the UK. Wherever, there was a Prajapati, there was our “samaj” and coming to the ËK was not different.
During the early 60s, our members were instrumental in establishing:
Many of the people who were closely involved with the building project are still alive but sadly we have also lost many of our dedicated supporters. This piece is dedicated to those dearly departed and also in honour of those who are still present who stand shoulder to shoulder with the Trustees of SPAL.
Prior to acquiring our building all our major functions were held at public halls such as school halls. As our community members increased in numbers it was getting difficult to secure suitable venues to allow us to hold functions that would accommodate our members’ needs. A building project team was created and they were tasked to look for a suitable building for purchase.
The team viewed a number of buildings and when they were informed of a building that has gone on sale; a timber yard in Ulverscroft Road, some of the team members went out at 11pm to view the site from outside using car headlights. After contacting he agents, an Extraordinary General Meeting was held on 29th September 1991 at Crown Hills Community College. After given a mandate to proceed with the plan to purchase the property, open day was held for members to visit the site to give their opinion. Members overwhelmingly supported the project.
The interesting fact was that the property was on sale for £495,000 and we had somewhere £50,000 in our account. We requested the vendors to give us three months’ time for us to make the financial arrangements. The sheer determination of our members to support the project and make financial contribution to bridge the gap gave the team to proceed with full speed.
We got possession of the building in the early part of 1992 and our main objective was to hold the Navratri festival that year in our hall. Volunteers tirelessly worked hard to achieve that goal. It was the sweetest moment when we opened up the door for the first Norta with very basic portable heating and exhibition carpet on the floor.
By the summer of 1993 the small hall, which is the Prathna Hall now, was refurbished enough to be available for hire. Work to construct new walls and replace the roof to main hall started in May 1993 with the view of completing the work by the end of August. This gave us a more comfortable Navratri festival in 1993. Due to the refurbishment work we were still looking for additional finance and once again our members came to the rescue. In conjunction with SPA (UK), a Grand Lottery was organised to raise fund for our building project. The draw for the lottery took place at our community centre where we hosted the Mahila Samelan on 24 April 1994.
Another memory of that day was that we had a break in the night before, but luckily not much damaged had taken place except the prize car was driven on the carpet and tyre marks were left. The community Centre was officially opened by Swami Satyamitranad Giriji Maharaj and invited dignitaries on 5th July 1997.
Since then we have been carrying out a number of alterations and refurbishments to keep the centre to current standards and make it appealing for users of our facilities.
Looking back, it was very inspirational and a great foresight for our previous trustees to have been able to acquire the property and get to a standard that has made our community centre much sought after. Many organisations like ours envy us. The task now remains for the current and future generations to build up on the success so far.
We hope that this article brings good memories for all our members and will encourage us to support trustees running the Samaj. Without our members support, the trustees can only make a limited progress, but with your support we can achieve the unachievable.