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HindustanTimes Mon,01 Sep 2014

Cosmo culture: Gujaratis making mark with business in holy city

Rameshinder Singh Sandhu , Hindustan Times  Amritsar, November 10, 2013
First Published: 22:53 IST(10/11/2013) | Last Updated: 22:55 IST(10/11/2013)

Most of the locals in the holy city are not even aware of the Gujarati community that also lives in Amritsar.

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Though the Gujaratis are very less in number, but they have made a mark in the sphere of business in Amritsar, which is a second home to them.

Since most of them are settled here for ages. The Gujaratis not only speak Punjabi fluently; they also have adopted the Punjabi lifestyle and have fallen in love with the Punjabi cuisine.

The city Gujaratis unanimously said, "People here are magnanimous. We are amazed to experience their hospitality. When our relatives visit us from Gujarat, they also appreciate it."

"We are also like Punjabis, but more business-minded and that is why we have started different kinds of businesses across the city,"said Chhotelal Bhai Patel, a veteran businessman among the Gujaratis in Amritsar. Chhotelal runs a 70-year-old firm 'Jash Bhai Patel Tea Traders Limited' at Katra Alhuwalia in the walled city for past 60 years. The tea is sold not only in Amritsar but across Punjab and there are two other Gujarati families in the same area who also run the same business.

Besides managing business, Lal is also a local member of BBK DAV College for Women, Gaushala Executive Committee, Durgiyana Mandir Committee and above all the vice-president of Gujarati Samaj, Amritsar, a community organisation active for past 90 years.

"Our organisation will soon build a guest house to accommodate Gujarati tourists who visit the holy city in great number every year,"he said.

Apart from tea, the Gujaratis are also successfully running color chemicals and textiles businesses in Amritsar.

The Parekh family is another prominent name in the Gujarati business circle in the city. The Parekhs run a reputed dental clinic since 1968 at Queens Road, where they are always flooded with customers not only from the city but also from villages.

"We feel good that people know us in this city and the rush of patients at our clinic also keeps our spirits high,"say Dr Hardik Parekh and Dr Bhuvan Parekh, the two young brothers of the Parekh family.

Father Mahesh Parekh who arrived in Amritsar in 1944 with his parents said, "Gujaratis can travel anywhere for better work and business prospects. Wherever they see an opportunity they move on and that is why some families are also living Amritsar from a long time."

Know the community:

Population: 280 (40 -50 families)
Main festivals: Diwali, Holi and Navratri that lasts upto 10 days
Popular dance: Garbha, Dandiya
Food: Dhokla, Phapra (snacks made of besan), Shrikhand (sweet dish made of strained yogurt), Khandvi (snack made of besan and curd), Patra (gram flower wrapped in leaf)
Prominent Gujaratis in Amritsar
Dr Hardik Parekh, popular dentist (picture)
Chote Lal Bhai Patel, eminent tea trader and vice-president of Gujarati Samaj (picture)
Nilesh Bhai, owner of popular watch showroom, Ajanta.
Rekha Pradip Thakur, officer at Baroda Bank, Kennedy Avenue

Speak Out:

"Amritsar has given us a great welcome. It is a second home for the Gujarati community."-Hari Har Bai Patel (in Amritsar from last 40 years)
"We face no hurdle in spite of coming from a different state. This is the best thing about this city."-Mahesh Parekh.

Recipe: Dholka
Ingredients: 1 cup besan, 1 cup suji, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 tablespoon refined oil, 1 cup curd, red chili powder as per taste, 1 tablespoon fruit salt, 3-4 green chilies, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Method: Mix all the above ingredients and leave it for 30 minutes. Take a pan and grease it with oil so that the mixture does not stick to the pan. Steam the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes. When it is ready cut it in cubes and garnish it with some mustard seeds, scraped coconut and green chilies.
serves upto 4

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