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Vale Pradip Pandya, patriarch of Sydney’s Gujarati community

Sydney’s Gujarati community in mourning after the loss of its patriarch and beacon of light, Pradip Pandya. YOGENDRA BHATNAGAR pays a tribute

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Sydney’s Gujarati community is mourning the loss of a patriarch and a beacon of light. Pradip Pandya, 71, passed away peacefully at his home on 19 November 2022. He fought a courageous battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia for the last year and a half. He is survived by his wife Kamini, daughter Purvi and two grandchildren.

Pradip was born in Pune on 14 December 1950. He was one of the six brothers and sisters. He excelled in studies and while pursuing his post graduate degree in science from Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, he met the love of his life, Kamini. Pradip was blessed with an inclination towards – and talent in – a wide variety extra-curricular activities such as sport, theatre, arts, music and poetry. A brilliant athlete, he played many sports with aplomb in his college days. It was the cricket world however, that beckoned most: he excelled as right arm leg spinner for his university team, often getting the player of the march award with bagfuls of wickets in every game. His performance was often reported in newspapers, with headlines reading “Pandya excels”.

Later, he would meticulously record scores and performances of his beloved Indian cricket team. He could at a moment’s notice, recount each play and scores of matches from decades ago – such was his passion for the game.

Pradip Pandya and wife kamini
Pradip with Kamini (Source: Facebook)

He arrived in Australia in 1988, and worked in logistics / demand planning, his longest service being with Energizer. He traveled overseas widely in this role, before finally retiring in 2013.

His advent in Sydney’s Gujarati community triggered a tidal wave of cultural activities.  He was one of the founding members of the Gujarati Samaj, and editor of its monthly newsletter Gurjar. Well versed in the Vedas, Upnishads and Hindu sacred scriptures such as Geeta and Ramanyan, Pradip initiated many spiritual activities in Sydney for the betterment of the community and for the younger generation to understand the roots and traditions of Sanatan Dharma. Most prominent among these was the group called Swadhyaya (self-introspection). He also volunteered to teach Hinduism at schools. He was also part of the community disaster response team that helped educate and support multicultural communities during COVID. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to any venture that brought our community together and promoted our interests.

Pradip Pandya at dandiya
Pradip Pandya, extreme left, at the dandiya celebrations he helped launch. (Source: Navratri Cultural Group)

This civic-minded spirit was deeply ingrained in Pradip Pandya from his teenage years. During the Indo-China war, he and his friends raised money for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, by going door to door to do charity work including cleaning houses and polishing shoes. He also volunteered at the leprosy centre, filling out medical cards and standing alongside people who had been shunned by society. He truly believed that service to others is the service to God.

He was well known for his love of arts -music, dancing, drama and worked hard to promote and support talent in our community and increase reach our traditional arts. He was the founder and a prominent male singer of the Sydney Garba group called Dholida and was also associated with Navratri Cultural Group for more than 25 years.  His home was a hub of cultural activities and focal point of many concerts, dramas, literary and dance performances.  He welcomed everyone with a smile and an open heart.  He himself was an actor par excellence and became a sought-after artiste, singer and musician in the Gujarati and Hindi theatre scene.

He lived for his family, friends and community – and that’s where he excelled with his infinite belief in goodness of the humanity.  He connected with everyone regardless of their age or background. He was loved and respected for his warmth, sense of humour, knowledge about arts, passion for our culture, and generosity of spirit. As a beloved husband, father, grandfather and a friend to all, he will be dearly missed. He will live on in our memories forever. A rare figure who worked up the courage to look beyond our individual personal spheres, Pradipbhai revolutionised the Gujarati arts and cultural scene in Sydney.

Pradip Pandya’s impact was profound in everyone’s life whosoever came in contact with him. However, such a sweet soul was truly meant for so much more, he vanished before we were ready to let him go.

READ ALSO: How Pradip Pandya helped organise Deepavali at church

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