Subhashbhai Lakhani – Chairman & Trustee
As we approach the 10th anniversary of VSUK inauguration, fond memories come flooding back – the initial exciting period of liaison under Marg-darshan from Je Je Shree, the commencing of men’s Satsangs, the first Mahotsav of Panch Tatva sponsored by Lakhani family that gave VSUK the recognition as the most well managed organisation. This continued with Bhagwat Saptah sponsored by Popat family, and followed each year by most auspicious Mahotsavs which Vaishnavs have commented as being mesmerised by, specially by Je Je Shree’s Vani and also the Manoraths, sajavats and blissful opportunity provided of such Darshans for which they would have to go to India and some are not able to anymore.It has truly been Thakorji’s krupa and Je Je Shree’s Ashirwad that I’ve had this opportunity to be one of the founder trustees and to be part of this enlightening journey. A further blessing has been the involvement in the inauguration of Vrajdham Haveli in Leicester and now soon to open Shrinathdham Haveli in London. Long may VSUK continue serving the Vaishnav community not just in the UK but also worldwide.I take this opportunity to thank all the Donors who have been so generous from our inception in 2009. The trust placed on the Board has been truly humbling for us with some donating funds well before we even had this project on the table.I would also like to thank our team of volunteers who as Je Je Shree refers to as the two arms of VSUK, and whose total commitment and dedication has been a major factor in us being able to host such memorable and blissful Mahotsavs and Manoraths over the years.
Mina Popat – Trustee
I believe that blessed opportunities are gifted to one quite rarely. For a long time my life has been twofold. Firstly, as a daughter, sister and friend and secondly, a life of unfolding spiritual journey and purpose. Growing up in a Vaishnav parivaar and observing Seva done by my dear departed mother planted the seed of spiritual learning. In 2004, my dear mother’s wish of sponsoring a Saptah in Champaran and being part of this made me eager to learn more. Hearing the experiences about the Saptah recited by Jejejshree in Baroda in 2006 piqued my interest and later the blessed meeting of Jejeshree with Pramodbhai, in London resulted in awakening my desire to host Shrimad Bhagwad Saptah in the presence of our own Guru Archarayashree Dwarkeshlalji Mahodayshree in 2011. The enthralling Vani of Jeje Shree during these seven days were not only enjoyed by UK Vaishnav’s but many more worldwide through Aastha TV for the first time. The attendance and immense interest of the UK vaishnav’s during this Saptah demonstrated a need for a Pushtimarg Haveli in London and became Jeje Shree’s vision. It was an honour and a privilege to be granted permission to be Manorathi Parivaar and sponsor Thakorji Swaroop for the Leicester Haveli. Soon after, with Jeje’s agya I became part of VSUK and I continue this journey to serve Hari,Guru and Vaishnavs from all over the world and learn from these divine experiences.With Jejeshree’s Marg Darshan and Thakorji’s Krupa, the UK Vaishnav’s are truly blessed to have the first ever Pushti haveli – ”Shrinathdham Haveli” in London. It is an honour, for us all, to be able to have Darshna of Shree Thakorji and experience the pilgrimage of a lifetime in London. Inspired by our of Acharyashree, many generous individuals from the community have contributed greatly through their personal presence, intellect and monetary support over the years for London to have its own Haveli. With Jejeshree’s divine guidance and encouragement of our efforts we were able to achieve this vision. My humble request to Jejeshree to always keep showering his blessings upon us and to guide us towards contentment, Devine joy and spiritual fulfilment through your teachings.We wish Jejejshree Khub Khub Vadhai on the opening of Shrinathdham Haveli in London. Lastly Khub Khub Vadhai to the Trustees, committee members and fellow Vaishanavs for their continued support.
Pramod Thakkar – Trustee & Acquisition Consultant
I was first inspired by Jeje Shree’s pious ‘vani’ (compassionately and sweetly spoken discourse) 13 Years ago, when I had the opportunity to listen to his Bhagvat Katha in December 2006 in Baroda, India. Since that time I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Jeje Shree and his stimulating work through Vaishnav Sangh of U.K. (a registered charity trust since October 2010).My family and I were fortunately blessed to have had Jeje reside with us at home in Leicester during his various mission visits to rekindle the Pushtimarg faith in U.K. During 2009-2010 when the informal group of sevaks under the guidance of Jeje were keen to open a Haveli he requested my involvement. As fate goes, coincidently the children of Late Giriraj Maharaj who had an operating Haveli in a small residential building on Loughborough Road, Leicester, knew my family. The vendors wanted to sell on the open market to attain the best price. My conscience, and Jeje’s blessings guided and motivated me to ensure that we acquired this operating Haveli at whatever cost. Here, elderly Vaishnavs had been regularly visiting for over 25 years, and we just could not allow this Haveli to be eradicated and sold elsewhere! Thus, my journey as a Sevak of Thakorji began. With the help of many other devotees the purchase was completed and the Vrajdham Haveli was acquired in June 2011 for the benefit of all vaishnavs.
August 2011 – a private Saptah (seven day discourse) by Jeje was held in London in honour of the Popat parivaar’s parents. My wife Jasu & her sister Mina Popat (now a co-trustee of VSUK) asked me to help plan and manage the event. With Jeje Shree’s blessings, it was agreed that the collection during the 7-day Bhagwat Sapthah would be in aid of acquiring the Vrajdham Haveli, Leicester. Around, £100,000 was raised towards the purchase of Shree Thakorji’s Haveli, just through pledges and donations.
August to October 2011 – alongside Jagdishbhai Patel (co-trustee of VSUK), project managed the building works and the architects and contractors. We ensured that the proposed structural changes and refurbishment from a semi-detached house to a suitable Haveli was achieved within just 9 weeks. I feel very blessed that we were able to rescue the old Haveli and transform it into a grander permanent abode for Shrinathji. As a satisfying result we were able to warm the hearts of numerous devotees with this newly revived and updated place of worship.
2012 – due to personal and unforeseen reasons I decided to step down from the Board of Trustees of VSUK, not knowing that in actual fact, Thakorji was only sending me on a short holiday……before the next mammoth task arrived on my table!
2018 – I was indeed ‘summoned back’ as first an Acquisition Consultant and thereafter once again a Trustee for the service of Thakorji and Jeje Shree’s divine lotus feet. Raj Pankhania and I began discussions about the transition from The Jaspar Centre to what is now, ten months later, established as the Shrinathdham Haveli and Community Centre.
Thakorji has always found a way to call me back and to keep me under the umbrella of his bountiful love and protection. I realised that this is surely the wish and the blessings of my Late parents Shri Shantilal & Shrimati Lalitaben Thakkar, and more so my Late Grandfather Shri Rugnath Jeram Morjaria Thakkar from Nakuru, Kenya, who was a staunch Vaishnav and ardent devotee of Shrinathji. Foresight is especially needed to provide an facilitate for the young generations who are the future torchbearers of such institutions. Their needs and priorities are indisputably different and this is bound to impact their style of steering and preserving our valuable traditions and institutions.I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank a few people. Firstly, Thakorji and Jeje Shree for choosing and believing in me to be part of this memorable journey, where I truly believe that we have now secured the future faith of our forthcoming generations. Thank you to my Co-Trustees, the Acquisition team, Events team, and all the supporters, dedicated volunteers and well-wishers. Finally, gratitude to my wife Jasu and daughter Meera, for not only bearing with me but for guiding and reminding me that this is my ‘Zindagi Ni Sachi Kamai’ during every step of this amazing and historical journey.
Dalpatbhai Kotecha – Trustee
In Leicester there had been a long awaited need to open a Haveli and when VSUK achieved this in November 2011, it has truly changed the lives of so many Vaishnavs forever. The daily joy of taking part in Ful Ghar seva, other daily Haveli duties, and right up to the involvement in special manorath preparations is still as exciting for the community after 8 years. With Thakorji’s krupa and Je Je Shree’s ashirwad, I feel blessed to have been able to provide seva, as not only a founder trustee, but also working daily with the Haveli Committee and the Vaishnav community.
Late Jagdish Ambalal Patel – Trustee
Jagdishbhai Patel was born in June 1941 in Embu, Kenya where he grew up in a traditional family and received education at schools in Nairobi. As a child he was an avid reader, spending hours pouring over books. He also had a creative side and enjoyed painting. At the age of 21 years he set up his first company Uhuru Traders, a retail business. In 1965 he established Kindaruma Limited, dealing with hardware and construction materials.
Professionally he has been a successful businessman. However personally he is both religious and charitable at heart. In 1993, he assisted in creating a Hindu temple in his home town Embu and later he offered seva and contributed towards the Haveli in Nairobi. In the UK, he was involved in successfully establishing a Haveli in Leicester in 2010 and presently, in the formation of Shrinathdham Haveli and Community Centre in Harrow, London.