For hundreds of years, merchants from Gujarat in western India have lived and traded in cities along Kenya’s coast. In the late 1800s, much larger numbers of Gujaratis arrived as British indentured laborers. Today, the small Gujarati community in Kenya has great economic influence as business owners, which has led to resentment.
The terrorist attack of a shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013 happened in the heart of the Kenyan-Indian community. A nearby Gujarati Jain center became the relief and rescue operations hub. More than a third of the victims who died were Gujarati.
A major festival for Gujarati Hindus is Navratri, nine days in late September or early October. Each night, people gather to play the garba or dandiya raas, circular dances which can be simple enough to be performed by large groups of people. Sometimes the dances surround an image or idol of a god, goddess or guru.
Most Gujaratis follow one of the Swaminarayan Hindu sects, which is often evidenced by their dietary restrictions: no meat, eggs, alcohol, onions or garlic. It is taught that by abstaining from such things, one can have a purer mind for meditation and worship.
“And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:21-22): Our High Priest and King, only You can give us clean hearts. Let many Gujaratis learn of Your work and confidently draw near to You.
“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” (Acts 16:14): Holy Spirit, call forth more of Your people in Kenya to reach out to Gujaratis. Open the hearts of Gujarati business owners to pay attention to Truth.
Ask God how else to pray.
Take a sweet (eggless) treat to a local Gujarati business owner as part of your Christmas celebrations.