While showing pride in being an Indian, how many of us realize that preserving our country’s heritage and culture is also our responsibility? Vivek Modi has run from pillar to post to preserve the Bohri houses in Gujarat, a one-of-its kind architecture, from being demolished by the ‘increasing urbanization mania’. This article is an inspiring account of Vivek, an engineer by profession, who is doing his bit his way to preserve the heritage of Gujarat.
We are all proud of India and its rich heritage & culture. We can’t stop bragging about our very own shining Taj Mahal and how beautiful it looks on a full moon night.
With sky-high buildings and fast-paced industrialization, how often do we spare some time and think about the damage we are causing to the sites which could attract a lot of tourists and help the local community?
Vivek Modi is one such person who is trying to make a change and preserve the rich heritage single-handedly. Born and brought up in Sidhpur, Gujarat, this 20-year old civil engineering student was always inspired by the rich heritage and culture of India, especially the heritage of Gujarat.
The ignorance of the government towards local customs and heritage always worried him. Sidhpur is the only place in the world where Hindus perform Matrushraddh. It is also the site of world-class architecture of Bohri houses.
“Sadly neither the government nor the people are concerned about preserving this heritage. The town is losing its magnificent identity as the Bohri houses are being demolished,” Modi says.
Due to lack of employment opportunities and livelihood options, the Bohra community has been migrating from their traditional homes which are now being demolished by builders to construct huge complexes and buildings instead.
“Development is important, but it should not be at the cost of heritage. If demolition continues like this, there will be nothing left in the name of heritage” Modi says.
Modi also believes that there is not enough work done from the government’s side to protect whatever is left of the local heritage. “We contacted a lot of government officials and wrote letters, but nothing made a difference,” he says.
Lack of participation from the people has also been a challenge. “When they themselves are ignorant towards the issue, how can anyone else help them?” Modi says.
Modi joined Sidhpur Smriti trust to expand his efforts before a larger audience. The trust organizes various plays and events to spread awareness about heritage conservation. They also visit municipality and tourist department regularly to improve the condition.
“More than spreading awareness, I feel we should focus on getting the government involved. That is the only way to bring about a quick change,” he says.
To raise concern and attract people towards Sidhpur, Modi has also written a book on the rich heritage and culture of the place. The book is yet to be published. He also presented this issue at the National Heritage Fest 2014, organised by Gujarat Tourism.
He aims at including some of the properties of Sidhpur in the list of UNESCO heritage sites. To improve the condition of the Bohra community, he has plans of converting the Bohri houses into home stays to attract more tourists.
“A single tourist benefits around 18 people of a village. Some earn through transport, some through food stalls, some by providing accommodation. This way, we can get people involved with the local community and help preserve the beautiful Bohri houses as well,” he says.
The main aim is to attract a lot of tourists in the coming years by spreading awareness about the place and getting the government involved. “We expect people to be more helpful and contribute to the cause,” Modi says.
He advises people to be considerate towards the culture of the country and spread the word about such lesser-known beautiful locations.
A small step by a student became a movement and voice of the masses. So in case you are worried about the fading culture of the country, you know what you have to do. Change yourself and the world will change with you.