Page 13 - Gujar Mal Modi
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that the birth of a son was necessary to ensure one’s salvation after death. There

              was a natural desire, therefore, that there should be a son in the family. This was,
              perhaps, one of the many reason s which had impelled him to marry again after

              the death of his first wife. When he was blessed with a son on 9th August, 1902
              at Kanaur (Shravana Shukla Shashthi of 1859 according to the Hindu calendar,

              more popularly known as the Vikrami Calendar) there was great rejoicing in the
              whole family. The birth was celebrated with songs and music because this was

              the fulfilment of a long-cherished desire for a son. Good wishes continued to
              pour in for days and weeks. The astrologers were summoned and they stated

              that at the time of the birth, the position of the stars were extremely favourable
              for the child. The devout father then arranged a Yagna followed by all the cere-

              monies that normally take place in an orthodox Hindu family after the birth of a

              But this rejoicing in the family and the mood of gaiety lasted barely six days as

              the mother developed sepsis and all the medical aid that was available in those
              days could not save her.

              The little child was left without a mother.  This naturally created numerous
              problems for the family. At first it was decided to bring up the child on bottle

              feeding. But the elders in the family resisted the idea. They firmly believed that
              breast-feeding was the only way to save the child, the only male issue so far in

              the family. The father could not resist the wishes of the elders and thus a fos-
              ter-mother from the nearby village of Majra was engaged to breastfeed the child.

              The grand-mother would visit the child and the wet nurse almost every other

              day to ensure that the child received full attention. But after a few days both the
              foster-mother and the child was brought over to Patiala where they could stay

              under the direct supervision of the grand-mother.

              The birth name of the child was Ram Prasad, but as time passed, the child was

              nicknamed Gujar after his foster mother whose name was Gujari. The name Gu-
              jar stuck on and the child came to be known as Gujarmal. That is how the lit-

              tle Ram Prasad, who was destined to become an industrial magnate in his later
              years, came to be known as Mr. Gujarmal Modi.

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