Jai Jinendra and Pranam,
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
We hope that all of you have been keeping well and safe.
We believe that by heeding the advise from the government and taking sensibly responsible precautions we will eventually come out of this safely. Over the past few weeks the government has slowly started to relax some of the lockdown measures and we continue to monitor the situation on a daily and regular basis.
Many of our community members and their households continue to be sadly been affected by the loss of a loved one due to this vile disease as well as other causes. We express our sincere condolences to all those who have been affected and pray to our Lord Tirthankar Bhagwants to rest the souls of their loved ones in eternal peace and give them all the strength to come to terms with the loss to their families.
There is still no firm indication from the government as to when the lockdown measures will be completely lifted or even when partial relaxation of some measures may be introduced, which would allow us to reopen our Centres.
In view of this ALL our Centres continue to remain closed until further notice.
Deraser and Ghar Deraser Partial Opening
However, we are pleased to announce that as of 13 June 2020 the government has relaxed the measures to allow Places of Worship to open for INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS ONLY subject to appropriate steps being taken by the respective organisations to make them COVID SECURE.
Based on this we shall be opening our Jain Deraser at Oshwal Centre, daily for INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS ONLY from SUNDAY 21 JUNE 2020 from 9am to 12pm.
Going forward during weekdays the Deraser will be open for INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS ONLY from 9am to 11am; and on weekends on Saturday and Sunday there will be two sessions between 9am to 11pm and between 2pm and 4pm.
Please note that PUJANS, AARTI, MANGAL DIVO or ANY OTHER RITUALS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED to be performed by the devotees attending or our respected Vidhikar, on their behalf, so kindly please refrain from asking the Vidhikar Jayeshbhai or the attendant staff / volunteers for any permission in this regard.
FULL DETAILS OF ALL THE RULES TO BE FOLLOWED, INCLUDING THE LIMIT ON THE TIME A DEVOTEE CAN SPEND IN THE DERASER AND THE NUMBER OF DEVOTEES PERMITTED TO BE IN THE DERASER AT ANY GIVEN TIME, WILL BE CLEARLY DISPLAYED OUTSIDE THE DERASER.
The GHAR DERASER at EKTA CENTRE is also being opened up, but it will only be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 12pm.
The South Area Committee will notify the members residing in the South Area about the opening up of the South Area GHAR DERASER
The SAME RULES stated above, for Oshwal Centre, will be applicable at both the Ekta Centre and the South London Ghar Derasers.
For more details, click here.
Annual General Meetings
In our live webcast, on Sunday 31st May 2020, we had given a brief overview of the situation relation to the Central AGM as well as the Area AGMs. As promised in our webcast we are in the process of preparing to send out, to our members, FULL DETAILS of the proposals we submitted to the Charity Commission together with our reasons for making the said proposals and details of the verbal response received from the Charity Commission. In order to save vital costs we are arranging to send these details as part of a package containing a special edition of Oshwal News.
Oshwal Sewa Donations
We had launched an appeal for donations for the SEWA activity, in April, as a result of requests from several members who had wished to contribute to our SEWA efforts. We are deeply humbled by the generosity of our members and we thank all our esteemed donors for their contributions. The appeal is still open and we continue to receive donations to assist with future SEWA work. For more details, click here.
At the time of writing this we still do not have any indication as to when the government will relax lockdown measures to the extent of allowing large or mass public gatherings. Therefore, for the first time in almost 45 years we will not be able to celebrate Paryushan in a traditional manner especially as it takes a considerable amount of advance preparation and planning, which may not be possible to execute at a short notice.
The Religious Committee of the EC is working with the Area Committees and Jayeshbhai to prepare plans for a “VIRTUAL PARYUSHAN” by conducting the various activities, including Pratikaman, using the ON-LINE facilities that have now become commonplace even in India. We will do everything we can to ensure that in whatever manner we celebrate Paryushan it will be a memorable and pleasant experience.
We are working to finalise the plans in time for including full details in the Special Edition of Oshwal News, which is under preparation and should be delivered to all member households in good time before Paryushan.
Humble Oshwal Helping Communities
There are always so many worthy causes and issues on a range of matters (such as racism, gender pay equality, diversity, malnutrition, access to clear water, female genital mutilation, climate change to name but a few), covered by the mainstream news media outlets on daily basis. Many of these issues relate to political, economic, social and technological matters and are covered in depth by an array of news channels.
While one may individually support and/or actively choose to work to further a specific cause, which one may be passionate about, it is important to remember that as a membership organization, our Association is also a Registered Charity. The Charity Trustees (the Executive Committee in the case of our Association) of a Registered Charity can only comment publicly on matters that would be pertinent to the effective delivery and furtherance of the Charitable Purposes, for which the Charity has been set up.
To this end, over the past couple of months Jayeshbhai, our Vidhikar, has provided us all with valuable Jain teachings of how all life matters through his wonderful Satsangs. Furthermore, recently on 6 June, a young Oshwal, Arti Gudka, dedicated an entire session of Oshwal Chair Yoga session on the issue of racism, which has been very much in the news recently.
Our recent Oshwal Sewa work to help elderly and people in self-isolation due to the coronavirus lockdown, assisted both members as well as non-members. For obvious reasons of privacy of the vulnerable individuals, we have not listed the people we helped, but I am very proud of the work done by all involved, in helping anyone who needed it regardless of gender, age, cast, community or creed.
These are just a few small examples of how quietly many good-natured humble Oshwals have been helping our community and other communities at large.
Important message about use of social media
We live in a social media world, where many individuals feed on the instant gratification that comes about by the number of likes or shares of a post or picture. However, as the above examples have shown many good-natured humble Oshwals are quietly working away to help communities at large without the need to seek publicity through social media to satisfy their craving for accolades.
Of course, social media channels are important in communicating information fast to many people. To this end, I am pleased that our media team has established several Official Oshwal media channels like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp groups to propagate news and information about upcoming Oshwal online events.
Social media channels also have many well-documented disadvantages such as the prevalence of misinformation (commonly referred to as fake news) and spurring lack of fuller understanding of important issues, which are not captured within the bitesized headline or limited character numbers on a text or post. Social media trolling is also a very harmful offshoot of the new digital world we live in. Indeed, the latter is an offence under the Malicious Communications Act.
I urge all members to use social media responsibility as it can also easily attract unwarranted adverse attention to our peaceful Oshwal Centres and Derasar, from individuals or groups who may wish to bring damage and harm to our Association.
Social media channels are also not necessarily the best means to hold proper amicable discussion about many wide ranging, important and complex issues of the day. I still believe that good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations (where possible of course given the COVID-19 situation) are the best means of building trust between two people of different perspectives to discuss important matters. To this end, we recently did a special address via video webinar (the next best thing to face-to-face conversations for now) to update our members of what has been happening in our Association over the last few months. We have received many positive comments and feedback on the back of this.
As we mentioned in this special address, so much has been happening in our Association over the last three months despite the COVID-19 lockdown, it is important to remember that the vast majority of work done within our Association is done by volunteers.
Many of these volunteers are not only looking after other family members during this global health crisis, but also balancing family and work life alongside their time which they have given selflessly to our Association for the benefit of our Oshwal Samaj.
These volunteers have quietly persevered with the work often overcoming technical issues and demands put on them by some impatient members. To this end, I urge all members to have patience and understanding that there is another Oshwal at the other end of the email or text message you send. I have not met a single volunteer who does not have our Association deeply in their heart and is doing their level best to help. I urge all our members to respect the time these volunteers give for our Association and be a patient in receiving replies to any queries to may have. I have always believed it is better take time and get things right rather than rush ahead and fail.
At this time of global health crisis and the huge challenges our members have faced and how they have adapted to the new normal, I am very proud of our Association, its members and the remarkable volunteer taskforce we have. I encourage all members not to hide behind well-crafted social media messaging and commentary but to paraphrase a famous quote: ask not what your Association can do for you, ask what you can do for your Association.
If you need any information about various government schemes or even about the virus itself, please visit the government website at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus, which has all the information and relevant links.
Nilesh Bhagwanji Shah
OAUK Hon. President
Updated: Friday 19 June 2020
For information on coronavirus in Gujarati, click here.
To subscribe to our e-newsletters, click here.