Much before the State of Rajasthan was born, a group of people comprising Jains and Aggarwals moved to places like Calcutta, looking for business opportunities. Gradually the section migrated to the Southern city of Hyderabad and then to Chennai, beginning a relationship with the city that began 200-odd years ago.
This group was known by the general term marwaris, who originally belonged to Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Their settlement took place in and around Choolai, George Town and Parry’s.
As money lenders and traders, the Rajasthanis today are evenly spread across the city, including the suburbs of Pallavaram, far from where the settlement originally began.
However, a walk down the lanes of Sowcarpet, that gets its name from the initial vocation that the Rajasthanis were primarily identified with—money lending — gives as glimpse into the place that owes its existence to the community. The area derives its name from the word sahukar (moneylender) with the local suffix pet that stands for place.
But the story of the community would remain incomplete without a mention of the charitable and social consciousness of the community that has grown to a 2-2.5 lakh-strong population today.
Preserving their culture, yet adapting the local culture, the Rajasthanis have had a domineering presence with a range of activities, especially in the field of education.
The SS Jain Educational Society that was founded in the 1930s took a big step towards facilitating the access to education. A M Jain College that started in the same decade. One of the chief donors of the college, Mohanmull Chordia was awarded the fourth highest civilian award, Padma Shri for his efforts
The establishment of the college was followed by another institution Sanatana Dharma in Mint around the same time.
Reaching out to the field of health, the Jain Medical Relief Society was founded and the organisation set up a dispensary and maternity clinic in Sowcarpet, in the 50s.
Today, under the auspices of the institution there are dialysis hospitals that offer the treatment for a nominal cost, apart from an eye hospital.
Another milestone was the formation of the Rajasthan Youth Association in the year 1963, after the reorganisation of the States on linguistic basis in 1956 that led to the formation of the State of Rajasthan.
The following year, the book bank project was started to meet the educational requirements of the student community in the city. Today, the project that began 50 years ago, has served the educational needs of 85,000 students. The Rajasthan Cloth Bank has been involved in the distribution of clothes to the needy and that includes school uniforms for underprivileged students.
Given the reach of the services, it is not surprising that animal husbandry has been in the ambit of services as well, as testified by gaushala located in Ayanavaram.
An umbrella Rajasthan Association, formed in 1967, represents the activities of all the Rajasthani organisations. Till date, the organisation has distributed scholarship worth crores.