Monday, August 23, 2010

Kanaksinh Khimji : The only Hindu sheikh of Arab world is a Gujarati

The only Hindu sheikh of Arab world is a Gujarati Thursday, June 26, 2008 02:24 IST AHMEDABAD: The world’s only Hindu sheikh happens to be an uncompromising vegetarian, his devotion is anchored to Lord Shreenathji, and though his admired entrepreneurship branches out across the globe, his roots lie in Gujarat. If that isn't enough, the Sultan of Oman has offered his yacht Lo'Lo' to this NRI for developing tourism business in the Sultanate. Kanaksi Khimji, the head of Khimji Ramdas Group of Companies, was conferred the title of sheikh by the Sultan of Oman. Khimji Ramdas and M/s V. Ships Leisure have also been appointed the ship managers of the yacht, which will undergo remodelling and refurbishment work at the Port of Sohar, over the next three months. Khimji, a practising Gujarati Vaishnav, was born in 1936 in Muscat; and he completed his matriculation in Mumbai. Later, he became one of the very few Indians to be offered Omani citizenship. Generations ago, Khimji's grandfather, Ramdas Thackersey, had set sail for Oman from Mandvi, in Kutch. Today, dressed in a flowing full-length robe and wearing the kaffiyeh, the cloth that covers the head, Khimji easily passes off as an Omani. When he married in 1960, Khimji was presented with a silver jug by Sultan Said Taimur Bin Faisal. The queen mother, Bibi Mahezun, had given him two of her photographs, a privilege accorded to only a few. The former president of India, Shankar Dayal Sharma, had called Khimji 'the real ambassador of India to the Gulf countries'. Chandrakant Chothani, one of the founding members of the Muscat Gujarati Samaj said, "Kanaksibhai has not only earned the respect of the Indian community but also of the citizens of Oman." Khimji was one of the NRIs to receive the Centre's Bhartiya Pravasi Award, in 2003. Indeed, Khimji's 'Bhartiya' persona is reflected in his spiritual practices. He has an idol of Lord Shreenathji installed in a temple at his home. He does not touch non-vegetarian food; his office kitchen serves delicacies like rotla and chaas that keep everybody's palate satisfied with wholesome, and vegetarian, Gujarati delicacies. Khimji has contributed considerably to the public sphere in Oman as well as in India. In 1975, under Khimji's leadership, the Indian merchants’ body in Oman established the first-ever English medium school in Muscat.