Surat Hindu Association

The Surat Hindu Association was founded by the Gujarati-speaking section of the Hindu community in Durban in 1907, and is the oldest registered organisation in KwaZulu-Natal. The aims of the Association were to defend the interests and rights of Indian people, who faced discrimination in colonial-era Natal. Receptions were hosted for community leaders such as M.K. Gandhi, Srinivas Sastri and Sarojini Naidu. The Surat Hindu Educational Society was established to manage the Gujarati school set up by the Association in 1933. Teachers were recruited from India to provide instruction in the Gujarati language, which was an important part of the curriculum. The founders also built a “Dharamashala”, or boarding house, in Victoria Street (renamed Bertha Mkhize Street) to cater for Indians travelling from other parts of the country, or returning from India, as there were no hotels available for Indian people at that time. The Association brought priests to South Africa and fostered the traditional arts of music and drama, as well as establishing a Gujarati Library and Youth League that promoted debating, physical culture and sports, including the Bharat Cricket Club. The Gujarati Mahila Mandal was a part of the Surat Hindu Association that catered specifically for women’s interests, and it started a private English-medium school for Indians in 1949 due to a shortage of space in the government’s segregated schools for Indians. Today the Surat Hindu Association provides a platform for social, cultural, educational and religious activities. It also caters for the needs of indigent families and senior citizens, and offers bursaries for students.

Location

Address: 129 Bertha Mkhize St
GPS Points: -29.85286, 31.02419
Site Contact Details: Steven Kotze
Durban Local History Museums
steven.kotze@durban.gov.za
031 311 2239

Image Gallery