Both sides of my family (Dodhia and Haria) have roots in the Halari Visa Oshwal community, an ancient community still exists today throughout the world. The history of my family and the history of this community are tied together closely. (Go here for a more detailed history of the Halari Visa Oshwals).
The history of my family began over 800 years ago, in the year 1120 vikram savant (1150 AD), when there were 36 clans/families in Rajputana (an area in Rajesthan, now western India). At this time Muni Sursenji, a Jain priest who was son of King Mahipalji, preached and converted 20 of these 36 clans to the Jain religion. In the gujarati language, 20 is vis; hence the Visa in Halari Visa Oshwal
One of these clans was that of Chavda, to whom I am a direct descendent. Chavda had four sons; Dodhia, Savla, Nandu, and Chheda. I'm sure that one of these names looks familiar to those who know me, and I'll try to briefly explain why. In ancient times, no one in our community had last names. When a son was born and named, his father's name was kept as a second name, equivalent to a surname. So, if you were a boy, and someone asked you your name, you'd reply with your given name and then your father's . To be more precise, the grandfather's name could be added as a third name, and the great-grandfather's name as a fourth name, and so on. Daughters also took their father's name until they married, after which they took their husband's name.
The family was the most important unit, and this naming system made it easy to know to which family one belonged. Today this system lives on, to a degree. My first name is Ketan, and my father's name, Manek, is my middle name. My last name is the first name of my great-great-great-great... grandfather, Dodhia.
Now back to the history of my family. From Rajputana, these 20 clans migrated to and settled in Ossiya, Rajesthan (now western India). This explains the Oshwal in Halari Visa Oshwal.
At around the year 1365 vikram savant (1395 AD) these 20 clans (Visa Oshwals), in search of better opportunities, migrated from Ossiya, Rajesthan to Kutch (specifically to the city of Kankot, in the Vagar district of Gujurat, now western India), where Jam (King) Raval gave them asylum.
At around the year 1565 v.s. (1595 AD), the descendents of Jam Raval moved from Kutch to Halar, in Sauvrashtra, and the Visa Oshwals moved with him. The name Halari Visa Oshwal, describes the community of those who made the move.
The first settlement in Halar was in the village of Kansumra. As the population of the community increased, some families moved to a neighboring village, Dhichda.
From Dhichda, my great-great-great grandfather, Thavar, moved to Vasai (located 10 miles from Jamnagar, Halar district, Sauvrashtra region, of Gujurat)
My father's (Manek Ranmal Dodhia) side of the family lived in Vasai, where he was born. He went to school in Vasai, Bombay and Pune. He married my mother in and came to New York for further studies in 1972. The rest is history :)
There were other migrations of the Oshwal community to East Africa, England, North America, and most recently Australia. For more information on the history of the Oshwal community, go to the history section of the Oshwal home page.
Records have been kept of the names of the last 20 descendents of Chavda (myself being last). To the right is a list of my paternal ancestors, going back 20 generations, over 500 years.