Nadi Kshatriya Seva Samaj is comprised of all the members of the Kshatriya society in Nadi – Fiji Islands.
In early days in Nadi (around 1938), there were only six Khatri shops. They were
1. N. Narottam & Co. with Late Narottam Narsey Solanki
2. Ratanji Lallu (Jack’s father)
3. L. Ranchhod & Co. Ranchhod Bhagwan
4. Jamnadas & Co. Gokal Mahjan & Brijbhukhan. (Rati Gokal’s family.)
5. Ratanji & Co. Partners Gangaram Fakir Morriswala & Ratanji Gangaram Morriswala (Harish’s father) & Parshottam Vithal.
6. Maneklal Jiwan Malarao and Laxmidas Narsey (Darr) they came initially from Levuka Fiji.
Our First Mahotsav was held in around 1954 or so, in Harry Virraiya’s former NADI Theatre (which was located near the current Nadi bridge). The First Pramukh was Late Ranchhod Bhagwan. There were a few dances performed by Narsey (Goggaro) – Vinod Guruji’s grandfather. The Dance was called DO BUDHIYA NAACH. From this humble beginnings, the idea of a Khatri hall emerged. The leaders of the Kshatriya community in Nadi started to collect donation and preformed stage show in Lautoka, Ba, and Tavua and they also collected donation from Suva, Lautoka, Ba and Tavua. The community support was very encouraging.
Nadi is proud of the fact that the first Kshatriya Samaj organised in Fiji was and is ours. Our Samaj was also the first in building a Hall. The pioneers who had the vision of setting such an organisation included the Late Mr Laxmidas Narsey, and the Late Mr Narottam Narsey Solanki. The founding members when the Samaj was established were Late Mr Narottam Narsey Solanki, Late Mr Laxmidas Narsey, Late Mr Ratanji Gangaram Morriswala, Late Mr Dayaram Solanki, Late Mr Devidas Fakir Morriswala, Late Mr Jekishan Khatri, Late Mr Ranchhod Bhagwan, Late Mr Parshottam Solanki and Late Mr Brijbhukan Fakir Morriswala.
Nadi is also proud that it is not only the first Kshatriya Samaj organised and built in Fiji, but also believed to be the first Kshatriya Samaj and Khatri Hall built outside of India. What a vision by our pioneers!!!
Has anyone wondered why the word ‘Seva’ is part of the name of our organisation? There are 2 versions told, first is because the Samaj started importing utensils, chairs etc and hired to the community and also were running a kindergarten, Gujarati Library, looking after the crematorium ground and so on. The second is thought to be for the purpose of serving the community of Nadi and particularly the underprivileged. In those days the 4 businesses owned by the founding members were known as ‘Mahajans’ and for this reason, they were individually asked for help. Then when this group who use to mostly sit under the tree in the area which is today known as Koroivolu Park and play cards and have a few drinks realised that sometimes they were helping the same people and duplicating the donations so at this point the idea about the Samaj came up. The idea about the Samaj being a Seva Samaj and that all requests should go through this channel.
At this time also the CSR Company who had total control of the sugar industry was owning quite a bit of land as well (which included today’s Wailoaloa Crematorium area) and when this was being transferred to be under control on the Native Land Trust Board, Late Mr Narottam Narsey Solanki negotiated with the Government of the day to allocate the area which has been used by Hindus for so long as crematorium ground. He then build the structure so that rain would not affect cremation. Mr. Maneklal Malarao took the initiative to have the compound cleaned through a contractor through Samaj. Later the Samaj took the whole responsibility of maintenance of the Cremetorium. For a long time our Samaj members would organise picnics in Wailoaloa and while at picnic would at the same time work to maintain the crematorium grounds. It was later in the 80’s when the attacks started in the Wailoaloa area on those people who came for picnics, this trend eventually died and the control of the crematorium went to the current board.
Likewise Mr Narottam Narsey Solanki also played a very strong role by donating the land for a structure to be build what today is known as the Khatri Hall in Vunavou Lane, Nadi Town. This place was developed to assist our community members get together, have functions like weddings and parties and so on which for individual to organise would become a lot of work.
After this Hall was built, the seniors of our community moved from Koroivolu Park to our Hall for their every Saturday afternoon round of playing cards and enjoying a few drinks. When the Hall was getting used for all weddings and parties, the idea about setting up the ‘Mahila Mandal’ came up and the primary role they played was to look after all the cooking for the functions at a minimal cost that would generate enough income to pay for all the religious functions they organised annually as well. At the same time the idea about setting up the ‘Yuwak’ mandal also originated. This was primarily for the purpose of providing helping in serving during the functions but to keep the young generation interested the works of the Samaj, sports was introduced for them as well. Without sports interest there was never any doubt that the ‘Yuvak Mandal’ was going to die. When the Hall area was becoming very small for the growing Samaj population the land behind the current Hall was donated by the Jack’s family (Jekisun Khatrii & family). However before anything could be built, migration of members started due to coups in Fiji and the Hall again became adequate so the land still remains undeveloped.
Since the establishment, our Samaj has just grown stronger and stronger. We use to have a lot of annual functions and the pinnacle use to be our Mahotsav’s to which people from all over use to come and enjoy. However after the 1987 coup and a few more that followed our community numbers started going down due to migrations particularly in the younger generations. Today we still very strongly hold our culture but the annual events have reduced to once in a couple of years.
Nadi is also proud that our Samaj was the first one to float the idea of forming the National Body of all Samaj’s in Fiji and the main objective was to keep our community united which has been quite successful.