A Ford car owned by a business family in Jharkhand capital Ranchi that once drove the Mahatma is a lucky charm for the city’s elite would be-grooms.
More than 200 grooms have taken out their marriage processions in this four-seater convertible Ford car that had that driven the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi from Ranchi to Ramgarh for the famous Ramgarh Congress in 1938.
The Mahatma’s connection with this vintage car imported from London in 1922 by the then Shellac King Late Rai Saheb Laxminarayan Jaiswal is the most precious possession of this family into liquor and shellac business. Besides, it is also the most sought after vehicle for the elite families, especially those known to the Jaiswals, for taking out baraats (marriage processions).
“Attribute it to the Mahatma’s charisma that makes this vintage car so special, popular and priceless for us,” said Aditya Vikram Jaiswal, 30, great grandson of the Rai Saheb—a title given by the British—who also took out his marriage procession on the car and brought his spouse home on it driving himself with pride.
“We keep getting several requests every year from our friends and relatives, especially the elite ones, for the car during marriage seasons. We try our best to oblige most of them, but the fear of damage to this priceless moving machine keeps haunting,” said the fifth generation youngster of the Jaiswal family in Ranchi, who besides being a businessman, is also president of a non-government organization (NGO) called Empower Jharkhand.
Originally from Jamalpur in Uttar Pradesh, the Jaiswal family had migrated to Ranchi around two centuries back from Uttar Pradesh allured by huge potentials in the shellac business in the region. The decision turned the fortunes of this family as they succeeded in setting up a huge empire in shellac and later on in liquor businesses.
Second generation scion, Late Laxminarayan Jaiswal, whose father, Late Rai Bahadur Thakurdas had migrated with bag and baggage to Ranchi, scaled up the business to heights and earned huge wealth. In 1922, he became the first non-British to own a Ford car, which was imported from the USA, in 1922.
In 1938, when Gandhiji came to Ranchi, he visited ailing Thakurdas and then proceeded for Ramgrah in their Ford. Rai Saheb, also a strong nationalist, grabbed the opportunity and drove the Mahatma in his car.
“It’s just not a sentimental attachment, we are also very superstitious with the car,’ said Sheo Narayan Jaiswal, 87, Rai Saheb’s eldest son. “Whenever, any member of the family sets off on a business tour, he first sits and touches the Ford’s steering—it is under repair for last two month—and then moves ahead in other cars.” The family has at least 15 vintage and several luxury cars.
The Jaiswals, amongst the richest in Ranchi once, have immensely contributed towards the freedom movement donating land, gold and other things. Rai Saheb turned down the title of Raja Saheb following Gandhiji’s advice in 1938.
“All the marriage processions in our house have been taken out in this car,” said Aditya’s father Manoranjan Jaiswal. Hopefully, if the Ford keeps running like this, my one-year-old, grandson, Surya Vijay Jaiswal will also drive down to his in-laws to bring his better half home.