The Balasinor Association of America (“BAA”) derives its name from a small village named Balasinor in the state of Gujarat, located on the west coast of India. Balasinor is about 258 square miles located in Kheda district of Gujarat. Balasinor was originally named Vadasinor or Vadsol. Until 1605 it was under the rule of Rajput dynasties and then conquered by the Moghul Emperor Akbar in the 17th century. With the collapse of the Moghul dynasty in 19th century, the Marathas conquered the area and the Gayakwad’s ruled under the British Raj. Jafarkhan Babi established the Nawab (Muslim Kingdom) of Balasinor in 1674. Due to the burden of heavy taxes imposed by the British to support the funding of the Fort Wall for protection, several people in our community left Balasinor to neighboring villages like Baria, Dahod, Jhalod, and the Mahad district of Maharashtra. After Independence a Nagar Panchayat was established and Balasinor became the main town in the Kaira district.
The first Balasinorian migrated to the United States in the 1950s and paved the way for hundreds of their fellow Balasinorians to join suit over the following decades. The idea of forming BAA came about during the early 1970s, when some of the early immigrants worried that their fellow Balasinorians who migrated to the US would become widely dispersed, and future generations would lose touch with their roots. They decided to provide a venue for all fellow Balasinorians to meet and stay in touch with each other while also encouraging future generations to do the same by involving them in community events and providing opportunities to excel in various fields starting with basic college education and networking opportunities. Today, there are approximately 3,000 Balasinorians residing in the United States, excelling in the fields of engineering, medicine, business, accounting, legal and numerous other professions including philanthropy. The vast majority of Balasinorians came to the US with no more than $20 (the maximum the Government of India allowed individuals to travel with), and aspirations to achieve the American Dream. Many borrowed money for the airfare and others came by boat because they could not afford to fly. After putting in hard work, both in education and their respective professions, they have prospered economically and socially, but one thing they have not forgotten is their humble beginnings as well as the sacrifices and hardships of the first immigrants who inspired the later generations to come to the US.
In order to bring the community together and keep future generations tied to their roots, BAA holds annual events such as summer picnics and Diwali (major Indian holiday) dinners, during which time members get a chance to socialize and network with fellow Balasinorians, often reminiscing and sharing their stories of hardships and success as an inspiration to the newer generation. At many BAA events children are encouraged to participate in various cultural activities including traditional folk dancing and singing. One of the highlights of the Diwali event is the awarding of scholarships to high school seniors who excelled on their SATs. During the summer picnic, BAA members elect the Association’s President and the Executive Committee who are formally introduced at the Diwali Dinner.
In addition to the annual get-togethers, periodically (usually every five years) BAA publishes a contact directory including names, addresses and telephone numbers of all Balasinorians residing in the US, providing a further opportunity for members to stay in touch with fellow Balasinorians. All events, along with production and distribution of the directory, are paid for by annual membership dues, admission charges and advertisements in the directory.
Almost six decades following the arrival of the first immigrant from Balasinor onto American soil, Balasinorians remain closely tied to their roots and culture thanks to the efforts of BAA.