MMNA was founded in 1983 by a small number of families mainly in the North-East. The objective was to bring together all the Maheshwaris living in North America. It was decided to form local chapters at various locations throughout USA wherever there was a sizeable concentration of Maheshwari families. In August 1986, at one family style summer picnic at Harrison Lake State Park, the Mid-West Chapter was formed. In 1987, the South-West chapter was formed in Houston, Texas. The West Coast Chapter in Los Angeles California was formed in 1994, followed by formation of New England Chapter in Boston , MA in 1995 and South-East Chapter in Florida in 2000.
Over time, MMNA continued to expand on its objectives. A scholarship fund was started to help Maheshwari students for pursuing their graduate studies in North America. The fund provides interest-free loan to such students. Students can repay the loan after they graduate and find a job. This program now has transformed into Education Foundation in accordance with the Article VII of the revised Constitution and Bylaws.
Objectives of MMNA were redressed:
- To bring together all the Maheshwaris living in the North America (USA and Canada), to share, discuss and understand the values of the Maheshwari way of life, and to concern itself with the social welfare of the members of the Maheshwari community.
- To establish and reinforce contacts with Maheshwaris all over the world.
- To pass our heritage to our children in order to help them preserve their identity and the values we believe in.
- To involve youth in our community activities in order to carry on the mission of Maheshwari ideologies, faith and culture.
- To extend the financial and moral support to underprivileged & needy students and families.
MMNA has undertaken the following activities and more:
- The organization of religious festivals and cultural functions.
- The publication of Maheshwari Express Newsletters to express new ideas and to provide information beneficial to our community in meeting its objectives.
- The publication of directory listing the details of the Maheshwari families (including children) and singles.
- Raising funds for the scholarship program.
In addition, MMNA had taken up helping the distressed Maheshwari families in India as well.
MMNA organized its first national 10th Anniversary Celebration in August 1994 in Picataway, NJ. It was attended by about 200 attendees. Three years later, MMNA’s 1st International Convention [IMRC1997] in Toronto, Canada attracted about 300 attendees. The 2nd International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2000] was held in Chicago, IL in July 2000. Over 450 attendees from all over the world including over 100 individuals from India and other countries, attended this convention. The 3rd International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2003] was held in Galveston (Houston), TX in November 2003 with over 525 attendees attended this convention. The 4th International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2008] was Bahama Cruise with about 200 attendees attended this convention. The 5th International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2010] was held in Washington DC in September 2010 and had over 550 attendees attended this convention. The 6th International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2012] was held in Los Angeles, CA in September 20102 and had 500 attendees attended this convention. The 7th International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2014] was held in Grand Rapid (Detroit), MI in September 2014 and had 700 attendees attended this convention. The 8th International Maheshwari/Rajasthani Convention [IMRC2016] was held in Stanford (Boston), New England in July 2016 and had 625 attendees attended this convention.
MMNA now has on record over 1100 families of which 460+ are life members. The communications are handled at several levels including periodic newsletters, member directory, website, emails and personal phone calls.
MMNA bylaws were revised in December 2013 to meet the changing needs of MMNA community. The final copy of the bylaws can be found here.
Once upon a time, king Raja Khandelsen was the ruler of Kahandelgram, a part of Rajasthan, India. He was blessed with two beautiful queens, Rani Suryakuvar and Rani Indrakuvar. However, the king did not have any children, thus no one to carry his name or kingdom. He performed many pujas, yagnas and much charity to help the poor, but to no avail. Finally, one day he shared his sorrow with his spiritual advisor, Maharishi Yagyavalk. Maharishi Yagyavalk told him that he was cursed from his previous life and that this was the reason he was still childless.
The Maharishi explained to the king, "In your previous life, you earned your living through killing and selling of animals flesh. Once, you aimed your bow and arrow at a pregnant deer and killed her. As she died in pain, she placed a curse upon you that you will be childless. However, you felt guilty from this act, and went to Pushkar, where you took bath in the pious pond, to wash off your sins. This religious act helped you become a king in this life. To recover from this past curse, there is one solution that I shall explain to you. Not too far from here in Bhashkar state, there is a Pipal tree, under which a Shivling is buried. You should get this Shivling out and make a beautiful temple for Lord Shiva, in which this Shivling must be embellished with respect and devotion."
The king did exactly as he was told. In addition, he recited "Om, Namah Sivaya" shloka for two years. With this pious and religious act, Lord Shiva became happy and the king was blessed with a son, whom he named Sujansen.
Once prince Sujansen was born, the spiritual advisor made his Kundali, to chart out his graha and nakhshatra. He shared the graha position findings with King Khandelsen and said, "Your son will be handsome, masculine, and powerful; however due to an unforeseen incident he will suffer from sorrow for a short while, but that will eventually result in a happy ending."
Prince Sujansen was married to princess Chadravati, the daughter of King Yudhaveer. After this marriage, King Khandelsen handed over the kingdom to his son Sujansen and moved to the forest for his retirement. One day, King Sujansen went into the forest to hunt with his seventy-two soldiers as part of his routine. As the King and his soldiers were hunting, they got lost and became hungry. Soon, they sensed an aroma, as if someone was cooking good food, and they followed this aroma and reached a place where six rishis were performing yagna for Lord Shiva. Due to extreme hunger, the king and soldiers started eating prasad, drinking water from the nearby pond that was reserved for the yagna puja, and also started washing their stained bows and arrows in it. This broke the rishis' concentration, and they cursed king and his seventy-two soldiers to turn into stones.
Back in the kingdom, the queen and other 72 wives of soldiers were waiting for their husbands to return for months. Finally, Queen Chandravati went to see Maharishi Jabali. The Rishi Jabali explained the situation in its entirety and suggested that she and all other 72 wives of soldiers should go to the temple near the pond and worship Lord Shiva for their husbands' life.
At this time, in Kailashparvath in the Himaliyas, Lord Shiva and his beautiful wife Parvati were residing. Lord Shiva told Parvati that he needs to visit Earth, some of his worshipers were performing ygana and he needs go and show his satisfaction towards the successful completion of yagna. Parvati loved her husband dearly, and did not like to part from her husband. This time. Parvati insisted that she also goes with Shiva to Earth. Lord Shiva said to Parvati, "Dear, you are very kind hearted. You will not be able to bear the pains of the people living on Earth. As always, you will ask me to take away all of their sorrows. So it is better you stay here till my return to Kailashparvath." Mata Parvati insisted and said, "No, I must go with you." Lord Shiva said, "As you wish!" and they both started their journey to Earth where the rishis were performing the yagna.
As Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati reached the site, Parvati Mata saw the queen and all other wives were crying for their husbands' stone figures. Lord Shiva explained the situation to Mata Parvati. Mata immediately said to Lord Shiva "You must give these husbands another life because when I can not live without you even for a fraction of a second, how can you expect me to leave this place while these wives are so sorrowful in life without their husbands." Lord Shiva said "This is what I was afraid of when you decided to join me for this journey; in any case I must do so".
At this point, Lord Shiva brought king and other seventy-two soldiers back to life, and told king Sujansen "Because you have performed sinful activities, taking away lives of God's creatures, and have misused your power, you have suffered from this incident. From now on, since I am giving all of you a second life, you will be known after my name as "Mahesh-waris". You will also stop your role of Kshatriya and play a new role of Vaishya, Vaishya Dharam , which is a role of non-violence. Sujansen, to compensate for your violent tendency, from now on you will make living through donations from your other seventy-two Vaishaya brothers and you will perform the task of documenting their family trees."
At once, all the soldiers came to life as if they were awakening from a long sleep. However, they were hesitant to accept their wives, since they still belonged to the Kshatriya caste. At this point, Parvati Mata said, "All of you take four parikramas around me, whoever are wife and husband; their gathbandhan will be joined auto-magically". At this, everyone did so, and they re-joined as husbands and wives. Due to this, four feras (parikramas) are done outside, during the Maheshwari weddings, as a reminder of our origin. Lord Shiva gave this blessing to the new seventy-two Vaishyas on the 9 th day of Jyesth, Shukla Paksh in the year 9 of Yudhisthira Sanvat. On this day, newlywed brides and grooms are appointed to do Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati's puja so that they can also be blessed with children and live a happy and joyous life eternally.
While the seventy-two soldiers were bathing in the pond, their bows and arrows were melted, and after this, the pond was named "Loh-Garl". Due to the incident in this story, new seventy-two Maheshwari khanp (Last) names were created. After this, additional five Kshatriya last names were also added to the original seventy-two last names.
Khandela town is about 10 miles away from Phulera junction of Jaipur district. Loh-Garl area still has a water bath, which is 20-25 miles away from the Ringus junction, near the mountains. Birla, one of India's most prestigious families has established a sanatorium near the Didwana of Nagour distict.
Here is a list of all the original last names along with additions/derivatives from these names due to the family's place of business and/or the trade engaged in.
Aagsuad, Agiwal, Ajmera, Asava, Attal, Baaldi, Baheti, Bajaj, Baldua, Bang, Bangad, Bhandari, Bhansaali, Bhattad, Bhuradia, Bhutada, Bidada, Bihani, Birla, Boob, Chachani, Chandak, Chhaparwal, Chowkhda, Daad, Daga, Darak, Dargad, Devpura, Dhoot, Dhupad, Gadiya, Gagrani, Gattani, Gilada, Heda, Hurkat, Innani, Jajoo, Jakhetia, Jhanwar, Kabra, Kacholiya, Kahalia, Kalani, Kalantri, Kalia, Kankani, Karva, Kasat, Khawad, Ladha, Lahoti, Lakhotia, Lohia, Malooda, Malpani, Mandhania, Mandowara, Maniyar, Mantri, Modani, Mundhada, Navaal, Navandhar, Novlakha, Nyati, Pallod, Partani, Parwal, Porwar, Randad, Rathi, Sarda, Sikchi, Sodhani, Somani, Soni, Tapadia, Tavari, Toshniwal, Totla
Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America (MMNA) is non-profit, tax-exempt organization under federal Tax ID Number 11-2655254