Oshwal Association of the U.K. (OAUK) is the largest Jain organisation in the U.K. It was established in 1967 and registered as a charitable organisation in 1974.
The history of the Halari Visa Oshwal Community dates back to 457 B.C. to the state of Ossiya in Central Rajasthan, India. The name “Oshwal” is believed to have derived from “Ossiya”. Due to adverse conditions, Oshwals migrated to Sindh, and then Kutch and finally settled in 52 villages around Jam Nagar and became known as the Halari Visa Oshwals. To this day, the descent of the Halari Visa Oshwals is traced by reference to one of the 52 villages in India and their “attak”, or clan name, which was derived from the founding members of the family.
The migration of the Halari Visa Oshwals to East Africa commenced in the latter part of the 1890s where they settled mainly as traders and professionals.
The earliest Oshwal settlers to the UK were in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Initially an informal social group was formed and the Oshwal community saw its early beginnings. The first migration from East Africa was in 1968, often referred to as “the exodus”, which saw the community numbers increase.
A strong ethic of hard work and entrepreneurial flair has seen Oshwals establish successful businesses in virtually all sectors and professions in most fields, including; law, medicine, accountancy & financial services.
Oshwals are largely followers of the Jain faith, an ancient religion originating from India. Followers of the faith revere Lord Mahavir the 24th Tirthanker (A Tirthanker is a living being who attains enlightenment). Lord Mahavir’s teachings can be dated between 570 B.C. and 527 B.C.
The guiding principles of the Jain faith are Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct. One of the key tenets of the Jain faith is non-violence towards all living beings. By practicing the basic tenets, followers of the Jain faith believe that human kind will be able to live in peace and harmony with each other and with all living beings in the Universe.
OAUK currently has approximately 15,000 registered members and the overall population is estimated at 25,000. For administration purposes, the Association is divided into 9 Areas. The governance and administration of Association is dealt with by the Executive Committee and each Area is managed by an Area Committee. Elections of both the Executive Committee and the Area Committees take place every two years.
The Charity Objectives in summary are: –
- The advancement of the Jain Religion in the U.K.
- The relief of poverty, advancement of education and the protection of health.
The Association has four venues: –
- Oshwal Centre, Coopers Lane Road, Northaw, Hertfordshire EN6 4DG. This is also the site of the first Shikarband Jain Temple in Europe.
- Oshwal Mahajanwadi, 1 Campbell Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 2SQ
- Oshwal EKTA Centre, 366A Stag Lane, Kingsbury, London NW9 9AA
- Oshwal Shakti Centre, Inwood Road, Hounslow, Middlesex TW13 1UX
Work carried out by OAUK
Oshwal Association of the U.K. carries out regular activities for the welfare and benefit of its members including religious activities, the running of Gujarati Schools, Adult education classes, seminars on health and welfare, events for the elderly, sports clubs for the children and various cultural and heritage programmes.
The Association also promotes charitable work and raises funds for animal welfare, education and health care for those in need. At times of natural disasters and catastrophes’ the community has raised substantial sums to assist such causes. The majority of the work is carried out by volunteers who take time out of their professional and family lives to devote time back to the community. Oshwals also volunteer for a large number of other charities and organisations and hold posts as school governors, magistrates etc. Several have been recognised for their contributions and have been awarded with honours.