Remembering Jai Singh Mehta – 100th birth anniversary

Marriages are made in heaven

Mehta Jai Singh was married in 1944. The bride was found by placing an advertisement in the matrimonial columns of a leading newspaper, a rare thing to have happened in those days.

Today we are celebrating 100th birth anniversary of Jai Singh Mehta. He was born to Nawal Singh and Ratan Kanwar Mehta at Udaipur on 11 October 1921, on Vijaya Dashmi day. He passed away on 27 December 2011 at Kolkata.

At Bhopal, Mohna Kumari wife of Sardar Mal Lalwani and sister of prospective bride, recalls, “Having read the advertisement, we both went on pilgrimage to Rikhabdev, near Udaipur”. While staying with Dhanroop Mal and Ratan Kumari Bapna at Udaipur, they took the opportunity to call on Nawal Singh Mehta, father of prospect Jai Singh. Ratan Kumari quickly adds, “Nawal Singhji made very elaborate arrangements for reception and food at their haveli. They were treated like royal guests. The food was served in silverware and there were more than ten types of deserts”. God knows, how many dishes were there in main course!

The following month Nawal Singh Mehta sent his youngest son Jai Singh, accompanied by Roopji Dada, the Man Friday and trusted care taker of haveli, to Bhopal to see the bride to be, Kumari Roopa!

“They travelled in train from Udaipur in third class”, recalls Mohna Kumari with pride. She quickly adds, “Nawal Singhji believed in total austerity and simplicity, outside their home”.

They were well received by the family of Sardar Mal Lalwani and his wife Mohna Kumari and rest is history as the proposal was frozen. None of the family members, including the parents of Jai Singh had seen the bride to be or her family. That was the level of trust and faith Roopji Dada has earned in the family at haveli in Udaipur. Soon thereafter, the engagement ceremony was done.

Ratan Kumari (2016), says, “Dastoor, consisting of traditional costumes, jewellery, dry fruits and exotic sweets was exchanged. The important family members were deputed to Udaipur and Bhopal by their respective families to carry Dastoor. As per traditions, would be bride & groom and their parents do not join ‘Dastoor’ ceremony”. The wedding dates were fixed for the latter half of the year.

Mehta Nawal Singh passed away on 17th May 1944, before the wedding of his son Jai Singh. However, the wedding schedule remained unaltered as it was after couple of months of the tragedy. The baraat went to Bhopal by train and was received with great pomp and show. Since the father of Sardar Mal Lalwani was treasurer to Nawab Sahib of Bhopal, all privileges and logistic support for the wedding was generously extended by the royal family.

Mohna Kumari, sister of bride, who was instrumental in fixing the alliance, recalls, “The wedding was grandest show in Bhopal with full paraphernalia of royal band, elephants and horses decorated with full jewellery. The torch bearers with nautch girls danced before the wedding procession”.

When Mehta Nawal Singh passed away on 17th May, 1944 (Jyeshth vid 12) he was on the terrace of Dari Khana (Bichli Haveli), along with his nephew Mehta Prithvi Singh (son of Sangram Singh) and Roopji Dada (personal assistant). Prithvi Singh, now in his early nineties (2014), distinctly recalls,

“Bhai Jai Singhji who was also in the haveli, was rushed to call doctor from the hospital, while I and Roopji Dada tried to revive Kaka Sahib, by massaging sole and palms but unsuccessfully. Dada Bhaisa Inder Singhji was out of Udaipur”.

Urmila Kumari (now Parakh), daughter of Inder Kanwar recalls (2016), “Nanasaab (Nawal Singh Mehta) had got a velvet coat with zardosi (gold thread work) with white pajama and a typical Bhopali round velvet cap, also with zardosi, was specially ordered for the young boys and girls, alike, in the family, who accompanied baraat to Bhopal.”

Harnath Singh Bapna (2016), nephew of DM Bapna, grandson of Nawal Singh Mehta and son of Sawant Mal-Roop Kumari Bapna, adds with pride, “I sat on the elephant along with the Chote Mama Sahib (groom Jai Singh)”.

There is a relationship which is made by God. When two unknown people, whether from the same or from different cultural background decide to hold each other’s hand, they come together. A successful marriage is not about living together, it’s actually living together happily with each other. The union of Lalwani family from Bhopal with Mehta family from Udaipur was one such great alliance. Such relationships are made by God, that’s why I think they say that marriages are made in heaven.

Tributes by the family

Dileep Singh Mehta, son

Our lifetime inspiration and a blessing even in his physical absence. Remembered every moment.

Vandini Mehta

Amazing… we were reminiscing his love for healthy food and yoga earlier today- what passion and knowledge he had – and discipline!

Sunanda Mehta

Another incident which is so fond in my memory:  every summer we spent a month in Udaipur and on one of our trips Mamasaab hokum travelled with us in our train compartment (there were no flights to Udaipur then). At lunch, Raja asked for some bhujiya with his purees. I gave him some and was about to put the packet away when Mamasaab hokum said he wanted some too. I was a little shocked and looked at him and said that the packet contained bhujiya. He laughed out loud and told me that he had cravings too and indulged in them sometimes. We all had a good laugh and enjoyed our lunch.   It was a memorable time spent with him. A priceless memory! He taught me how to do Jal Neti which tremendously reduced my sinusitis bouts.

Karn Singh Mehta, son

He spread love of yoga everywhere. But also, commitment to nature care. Very few know of his commitment to charity . We always celebrated his birthday on Dussehra. Kaka had developed back problem due to cracking hip bone. He travelled to Rikhia, the Kolkata Bhavan, cost donated by him, was to be inaugurated. Gurdev Satyananda ji came but Kaka could not bend to touch his feet. Gurdev laughed and raised his foot so kaka could touch it in reverence!! Gurdev remarked the chela has made the guru to bow down! He was ordained a grihastha Sanyasi by Gurdev. Dilip has done a lot of construction there and now organises annual eye operations in Calcutta for people sent by Rikhia Asram.

Nalini Mehta

Such beautiful sharing of our grandparents during Navratri. I was also so fortunate to spend time with them. Chote Nana always comes to my thoughts when I wash my face 1st thing in the morning as he would suggest washing with cold water especially splashing my eyes so one feel awake and energized. So many such tips. He also honoured and supported my practice by making time to visit Gurdev when I came to Calcutta. So many precious memories with him.

Pradeep Singh Mehta, son

Kaka always enjoyed bhujiya with his food. I too have many fond memories but wouldn’t be able to narrate them here. I am writing my autobiography called “Why does Pradeep Mehta get angry”. A chapter is on my family life. For me the anger had positive outcomes, hence I was never desolate or defeated in spite of best efforts of others.

Jai Singh & Roop Kumari Mehta (1984)
With brother and sisters (1978): L to R: Inder Singh Mehta, Krishna Kumari Mehta, Roop Kumari Bapna and Jai Singh Mehta
NAVALDHAM FAMILY at the wedding reception of Pratap Mehta – 26 Feb 1978 at Field Club, Udaipur.
Mehta Nawal Singh (1887-1944)

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