Return to Main Site   Memorials 


Gopaldas Popatlal Pattni     

Born 1918  -  Demise 8/2/1992   

       Rambhaben Gopaldas Pattni

  Born: March 1925 -  Demise 14/6/2009

Late Shree Gopaldas Popatlal Pattni (Dhanak) was born in a small village Sarodar in the Gujarat state of India in 1918, the year when the first world war was about to be officially declared as being over. He was the second child and the eldest son of Popatlal Nathubhai and Rambhaben Popatlal and grandson of Nathubhai Narang Panchang.


He had one younger brother Ratilal Popatlal Dhanak and two sisters Diwariben and Shardaben.


Left sitting Gopaldas’s elder sister Diwariben (w/o Late Narandas Jinabhai Ghaghada),  

Small boy standing on chair is Gopaldas

Right sitting Gopaldas’s father Popatlal Nathubhai Narang Panchang

First from right Rambhaben Gopaldas Pattni

Middle younger sister Shardaben

Front Sushilaben Ratilal Pattni

Gopaldasbhai’s childhood was spent in Sarodar but at the age of four his family - father, mother and all his siblings migrated to Madagascar. This was because at that time, Indians living in India under the British colony were forced to join British army to fight against wars in different parts of the world and Gopaldas’s father Popatlalbhai fervently believed in non-violence thus was reluctant to go to war.


In Madagascar, Popatlalbhai set up his own Kabaru beans business which became extremely successful in a short period of time. His wife Rambhaben, used to tell her stories to her grandchildren about how Popatlalbhai used to export Kabaru beans all over Africa and India.


One day, fate took a turn and Poptlalbhai went through a major loss in the stock exchange. He suffered further duress from his friends and business associates which led to ill health and finally his death. With his death the family lost everything they had.


Gopaldas was only 5 years old at that time and his other siblings were younger than him and there was no one else who could look after their business which as a result eventually perished.


His mother Rambhaben was very young when her husband Popatlalbhai died but she never remarried due to her promise and devotion to her dying husband that she would take care of their children come what may.


To earn her living and feed her children she used to sew clothes for women. She had one small hand sawing machine. She struggled through life but never lost her dignity and self-respect. She died very young due to tuberculosis and left behind four young children of which Gopladasbhai was the second child.


Navin Chandra Gopaldas Pattni

Born: 4/11/1943

Demise: 14/12/1969

Sudha Subhash Pattni

Born: 15/6/1950

Demise: 10/6/1978

A Family Man

Few years later Gopaldasbhai met Lalitaben at her home in a village called Chittravad in Gujarat. Lalitaben, born in 1925 in Cittravad in India, was the eldest child and only daughter of late Meram Govind Challa. Although Gopaldasbhai’s visit to her house was not for matrimonial reason, she liked him at first sight and was taken aback by his honesty. Lalitaben was only 15 years old when she married Gopaldasbhai in Chittravad. Astonishingly, in Chittravad today there is a 108 year old man still living there who was present and witnessed their wedding!


After, their marriage they moved to Kampala and started a new life. Slowly and steadily they started establishing themselves and soon they were blessed with their first child Navinchandra, followed by Sarla, Subhash, Pushpa and Nilam. With the birth of their children, destiny took a turn and their luck changed. He bought a shop on William Street in Kampala which was named after himself as Gopaldas Popatlal Pattni Jewellers where he started his own gold jewellery and property investment business.


This shop was situated on William Street next to AP Bhimji’s shop. Together with his sons Navin and Subhash, he took this business to new heights. Lalitaben often referred to Navin as a very lucky son as it was after his birth that their fortune changed. Gopaldasbhai then spread his business to India where he bought a garments factory known as Rahil Enterprises in Dadar, Mumbai.  He also continued his property investment in Mumbai.


Despite facing all these challenges in childhood and never having the opportunity to go to college or university Gopaldasbhai  managed to build a reputation for being a shrewd businessman in Kampala. He had an inquisitive mind and a passion to learn. He would often borrow books from his friends, then climb on a tree with a little candle and spend hours reading. Through his life’s experiences he understood that this world was a school.


Elected as the President of Pattni Samaj, Kampala

With success came more responsibilities and dedicated himself to do Samaj Sewa. Gopaldasbhai became the president of Parajiya Pattni Samaj Kampala where he served the community for 3 years with selfless service.


Lalitaben was very creative and loved to painting sarees, so she started conducting saree painting classes in Kampala. Life for them couldn’t have felt more fulfilling.


Family Tragedy

Then on one very inauspicious day came the sudden and untimely death of Navin who died in a car accident on 14th December 1969 at the age of 25. This incident was so devastating for Gopaldasbhai and Lalitaben that at that time felt the whole world had come to a standstill.


The Swaminarayan Faith

Navin’s death brought a lot of confusion and soul searching questions for Gopaldasbhai and Lalitaben. To find peace of mind Gopaldasbhai went to Shri Yogiji Maharaj who was the Swaminarayan Guru at the time to seek answers. Following his meeting with him he decided to surrender himself unconditionally to Lord Swaminarayan and so became a devoted follower of Swaminarayan religion.


With time they lived on and then he got Subash married to Sudha, daughter of Narottambhai Meram Govind.


Life after Uganda

In 1972 with the overthrow of President Obote and start of Idi Amin’s dictatorship, the family had to sadly leave their residency on Kira Road in a hurry. This was one of the most defining moments of their lives because things would never be the same again. The family was split up in different countries in Canada, India, Belgium and Kenya and with this came struggle, loss of wealth and much heartache. They were forced to leave Uganda with nothing more than what clothes they wore on the day the expulsion was announced.


As Gopaldasbhai never believed in defeat, he rose to this challenge and rebuilt his life again in Nairobi, Kenya. He setup a new company called Ashons Gemstones in Nairobi and started a gemstones business with new partners and also assisted Subhash and his sister Mrs Sarla Anantrai Pattni to set up new ventures in Mumbai. Like Navin and Subash, Sarla also provided support to the business and Gopaldasbhai once again proved his mettle and the business flourished under his guidance and leadership.


Social Life

On the social front he and his Parajiya Soni friends in Nairobi setup a ‘Panaa Company’. This group consisted of 8 players although there were more members. Some of the members of this group were AP Bhimji, Jivanlal Odhavji, Ratansibhai Bhura, Narottambhai Hemraj, Vanravandas Damodar (known as Vanu kaka) and others. They would meet up every weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 8pm to 12pm midnight and play cards. This was one interest or hobby they shared with one another which kept them together. This ‘Panaa Company’ was very close to their hearts because it was there, in those few hours where they forgot all their worries and problems, and just lived in the moment.


Lalitaben - 'a rock solid support'

All through his life, during good and bad times, it was Gopaldasbhai’s wife Lalitaben who was his staunch support and stood by him like a rock. She was famously known for her punctuality. All the daily activities had to be done at their set time and she expected people around her to respect the value of her time. Even when she was ill she would get up at 4am in the morning, do her exercise and meditation. Like Gopaldasbhai, she too never failed to say her prayers each day.


The Givers

There are two types of people in this world. One who is a taker and another is a giver. Both Gopaldasbhai and Lalitaben were givers who gave unconditionally in abundance. Their generosity was such that even today, they may not be here but they are still changing people’s lives around the globe through ‘Everychild’ charity. What they have shown is the ability to move with times when required as they believed change is the law of the universe.


A Proud Dhanak Parajiya Soni

Gopaldasbhai often used to narrate how his Dhanak ancestors fought many wars during Chandragupt Maurya period and lost their lives for the country. Gopaldasbhai was a true a Dhank Parajiya Soni Kshatriya warrior who showed courage, strength and determination in this lifetime. His motto was to keep his will strong no matter what may happen. Gopaldas went through a lot of hardships after both his parents died but he too like his mother was determined to rise above all challenges.


Never Give Up In Your Pursuit

Her granddaughter Dimple (Subash’s daughter) still remembers that when she was a little girl there was a time when she felt disappointed and defeated with life’s experiences and her grandfather Gopaldasbhai took her out into the garden and pointed her towards a spider web and said “look at the spider trapped in this web and see how small it is. There are so many times when the spiders’ house is broken due to rain, wind or by us but does the spider ever give up on rebuilding its house again? Then why do you give up, my dear? You are so much bigger and intelligent than the spider, so forge ahead with strength, determination and will power.”


Dimple feels so proud to be a part of Late Shree Gopaldasbhai’s family and has dedicated a beautiful poem to her Dadaji Gopaldasbhai, Ba Lalitaben, Mum Sudha and Navin Ada.


Soaring with the Phoenix

A wish in mind, a dream to accomplish! Intense dedication moulded with constant failures.........

In a conquered and defeated state the mind wants rest. But is that the end to it?

Winning is an integral part of life, but life is blended with various other essences to encourage and inspire.

Life is not limited to winning or losing and has invulnerable boundaries of success and to target for what the world calls impossible, is to soar with the phoenix.

To aim for the phoenix with an eagle’s eye is aspiration.

To aim for the phoenix with a sparrow’s desire is intensity.

To aim for the phoenix being a lamb is courage and to dream unlimited is inspiration to make reality.

Success is all about waking up and making an attempt to move ahead with passion and desire. It doesn’t cost much to wake up, and revive your spirits and to believe in your inner self. Rising above your level with realization is soaring with the phoenix. After you have reached the level, give it another try because the phoenix has its limitations. Your trials will revive the myth and burn the phoenix to ashes, letting you free to soar higher than everybody, higher than yourself, higher than the phoenix! (source: MIS Alumni)


From Editor: I would like to thank Subhashbhai Gopaldas Pattni and his daughter Dimple Pattni for providing material and details of their family history.