Another chapter was added to the history of communal harmony in secular Kutch last week when Acharya Purushottam Priyadasji Maharaj, chief of the Maninagar (Ahmedabad) Swaminaryan Gadi Sansthan, laid the foundation stone of a Muslim community hall in Kera village.
The community hall is being built in the Swaminarayan Nagar area of the village by non-resident Indian Salim Molu, a Khoja (Ismaili) Muslim philanthropist based in Mombasa, Kenya. Molu has also announced a donation of Rs50 lakh to the Aga Khani Ismaili Khoja community of the village.
Molu had met Acharya Purushottam Priyadasji last year during the latter's visit to Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The foundation-laying ceremony took place amid a large presence of people from both the Patel and Khoja communities, which are in almost equal number in Kera. The community hall is expected to be ready by this time next year. According to Prem Patel, solicitor of Molu Firms in the UK, it will also be inaugurated by Acharya Swami.
Patel said, "Molu is a representative of Prince Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Khoja community across the world. The inaugural function will also be graced by the Aga Khan himself. It will be a rare occasion when the head of one religious sect would inaugurate the community building of another religion."
Patel further added that Molu, who originally hails from Mundra, is now a big name in the hotel industry in Kenya where he has a chain of hotels across major cities. Kutchis, including both Hindu Patels and Muslim Khojas, account for the largest chunk of the Indian population in Kenya.