Pravinkumar Girdharlal Sangani, a well known figure from Birmingham’s Hindu Community passed away in Australia last week, aged 77, after a short illness.
Born in Mwanza, Tanzania, Pravinbhai was educated at MS University of Baroda before moving to Birmingham in 1966 to complete his professional qualifications. More recently, he resettled in Canberra, Australia, since 2014.
During almost five decades in Birmingham, he was instrumental in developing and leading numerous Indian community organisations, together with his parents Girdharbhai and Rambhaben Sangani.
Amongst his many roles, Pravinbhai served as President of the Shree Hindu Community Centre Birmingham and Laxmi Narayan Mandir; President of Shree Lohana Association Birmingham; General Secretary of Lohana Community UK; and was an active member of the Gujarati Sahitya Academy. He also took pleasure in nurturing the next generation of community leaders and has inspired many others to follow in his footsteps.
An accountant by profession, Pravinbhai was ahead of his time in occupying senior finance positions within large blue-chip companies, such as Cadbury Schweppes and Severn Trent - both headquartered in the West Midlands. Before retiring, he last role was working with the UK’s Ministry of Defence on strategic procurement projects for the Royal Air Force.
Beyond his successful professional career, Pravinbhai was very much a Renaissance Man, who enjoyed exploring and promoting Indian arts, culture and philosophy. From his student days in Baroda, he had developed a passion for Gujarati drama, poetry and literature, which led him to study for a performing arts diploma in parallel to his main Bachelor of Commerce degree. His interest in amateur dramatics continued in the UK and he directed a Gujarati play titled ‘Uhuru’ which went on tour across several locations, to wide acclaim from audiences.
Pravinbhai was known for his engaging and jovial personality. He possessed a remarkable ability to connect with people, no matter what their age, interests or background and was accomplished in putting people at ease and finding common-ground. He was frequently called upon to compere public meetings, address social gatherings, and even mediate privately in disputes using his refined skills of tact and diplomacy.
As well as being an extrovert by nature, Pravinbhai also had a more serious and philosophical dimension, which he shared with the his late brother-in-law, Jay (Dilip) Lakhani, who went on to become a prominent Hindu scholar in UK. Both were heavily influenced by the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Parmahamsa and Swami Vivekananda and were active in promoting interfaith dialogue, explaining one of Hinduism’s most important gifts to the world - which sees humankind as one family.
Pravinbhai is survived by his wife Sarlaben, a life companion of 53 years; son Jay, who serves as a diplomat with the Australian Government, currently serving in India; daughters Heema and Ami; and sister Hansaben Gadhia. Pravinbhai is a huge loss for his family, friends and the wider community - matched only by the size of his legacy.