As the Centre renews its lease on the current buildings in Oxford until 2013, the OCHS Friend's Campaign is continuing to strengthen its foundations by developing new friends and benefactors. A programme of events organised by Friends of the OCHS is ongoing.
On January 27th, Yaksha and Kamlesh Patel held the first of this year's programmes at the Royal Society of Arts. This was the fourth such event Yaksha and Kamlesh have organised in the last two years. Others have included lectures at their home.
The evening at the Royal Society was centred around Dinker Mehta, a Gujarati stand-up comedian who provided the audience with a hilarious time. Jessica Frazier and Shaunaka Rishi preceded Dinker with presentations about the Centre and a call-to-arms in support of culture and education. We would like to thank Kamlesh and Yaksha very much for all the hard work they put into making this evening a success, and the Regency Hotel Group for their generous contribution on the night.
Rasik Varsani, our friend and graphic designer, arranged another wonderful occasion at the meeting place of the SSSS Mandal Kum Kum UK, in Stanmore, on the 3rd of March. We had an audience of 150, including many young people, to listen to a talk on the Shikshapatri, a text sacred to the Swaminarayan community, and how it is interpreted today. It was a very successful evening and ended with an overview of the Digital Shikshapatri project, in which the Oxford Centre has played an important part.
Our Friends Dinner programme was launched on St Patrick's Day by Harish IK Patel and Bharat Bhundia. Harishbhai, his wife Gitaben and Bharat were wonderful hosts for the evening, exemplifying generosity, hospitality and grace. They created a very warm and friendly environment which complemented the presentation and discussions that ensued, and the food was just great. We have had a very positive response from the dinner and some participants have joined our community of Friends while others have joined the Hindu Studies courses in London.
On 10th of June Harish and Bharat arranged for an evening of the play "Lottery" to be performed at the Waterman's Theatre in London. This event was staged for the benefit of the Online Hindu Studies Course. The play, in Gujarati, was a very funny take on the issues surrounding an Indian family who win the lottery. The evening was sold out and more than 1,500 Pounds was raised for the Online learning project.
On the 9th of June, Subhash and Rekha Thakrar arranged a wonderful dinner in the garden of their home, in North West London. More than sixty people attended, friends and associates of the family and some old Friends of the OCHS. Shaunaka Rishi outlined the aims and successes of the Centre and the challenges we face for the future. Aside from any digestive problems caused by the presentation, the participants enjoyed a lovely evening, very good food and good friends.
June 21st marked an interesting development in OCHS history as thirteen golfers gathered in London to enjoy a fine course, have a great time, and give the proceeds, amounting to less than the usual course fee, to the OCHS - a classic win win. The day raised 600 Pounds for the OCHS. All had such a good time that members want to bring more of their friends to start a golf society, regularly playing and contributing to a good educational initiative. Bharat Bhundia and Rasik Varsani pulled this group together and anyone interested in participating in future games or replicating the model in their area please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 9, a hundred students from our Hindu Studies courses, along with their friends, came from Leicester, Birmingham, London, and Oxford to visit the Centre. The day, blessed by sunny weather, included a tour of Oxford (including a chance to see where Harry Potter was filmed), a discussion with feedback on the courses in the Town Hall and a lovely picnic, provided by Vijay Thakrar, our friend from Leicester. It was a great day for all and helped to draw the community of students and friends closer together. We hope to make this an annual event.
OCHS Friends become part of the life of the Centre, receiving updates, invitations to OCHS events, and information on the international issues and topics with which the Centre is concerned. As Friends begin to adopt projects at the Centre, and advocate its value to their friends we are able to expand our community of support and our programmes.