A small village near Bagsara, Saurashtra, Rafala found itself in the limelight recently as it received the title of 'Golden Village', bringing pride to Gujarat and its government. A small area with only a 1000 people to account for, the entire village is painted in gold and boasts of several visitors. Credit for the transformation of the village goes to social activist and leader Savjibhai Kurjibhai Vekaria Rafala celebrated a three-day festival starting on October 31 which is also celebrated as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Jayanti.
The celebrations saw three different themes on each day, with appropriate programmes held accordingly. The first say saw Ramji temple and Someshwar temple be dedicated to the public and a maha aarti of all the gods and goddesses of the village. Present on the occasion, Swami Madhavpriyadasji said that Savjibhai, along with support of the villagers, has established a feat not even the government was capable of. The second day saw several guests like Morari Bapu, well-known YA author Jay Vasavada, and others. On the third day, Mohanbhai Dayabhai Lok-Kalyan Trust organised 'Krushi Vandana', where farmers were given the khedut gaurav award. Addressing the event, Morari Bapu said, “I have travelled across the globe, but have never seen a village so entirely beautiful and pure any where in my life of 72 years. More than an adarsh village, this appears like a fathers' village.” Vasavada said statues of Sardar Vallabhbhai are installed every where, but Rafala is the first village to also realise his talent and dedication.
The event also saw Shaurya Chakra awardee Major Rakesh Sharma, Param Vir Chakra awardee Col Bana Singh, Subaidar Sanjay Singh and Mahavir Chakra awardee Digendra Singh recognised for their undeterred contribution to the country.
Savjibhai and his determination to reform Rafala
After investing 2 years of his life in the village, Savjibhai successfully carried out approximately 23 schemes. After attaining his higher secondary education in Amreli, he went to Surat in 1988 and established a company named Hindustan Twister. He also began to deeply involve himself in public services. It was by this time that Savjibhai dreamt of a brighter, modern, and evolved Rafala. He wanted to pay homage to his parents, who had spent their entire lives in the village, by making it an ideal and wonderful place. His father Kurjibhai had passed away only a few months before, and his mother Labhuben had lost her eye sight to her age. While she did see her beloved village metamorphose, she could not watch the public recognition it got.
In the mammoth-sized task undertaken by Savjibhai, he had the constant support of his wife Hansaben, daughter Subhadra, and son Siddharth. Today, he stands as a stellar proof that a single man can move mountains if he has his heart set on it.
Savjibhai has for very long been carrying out different activities in the name of his grandfather as the trustee of Mohanbhai Dayabhai Lok-Kalyan Trust. He would also provide villagers with benefits by inviting social thinkers and artists to the village. He has also served as vice-president of the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj, Saurashtra Patel Sewa Samaj, Surat, and trustee of the Saputara Malegaon Prayosha Pratishthan. He also undertook several initiatives in Bagasara and Surat, in a bid to encourage education among the children of the village.
Savjibhai withstood cold, heat, and the rains to look after the village and the implemented changes. He even spent almost all of his savings in his determination to reform Rafala. After spending crores of rupees, he was able to install international-level facilities and establish new bhavans in a couple of years, completely changing the face of the village. People of all religions and castes helped him create what he had conceived, supporting him in the completion of his dream project.
'My work isn't over yet. I had divided it into ten divisions, and it is a wonder that one part has been completed. Now, along with making the village self-dependent, I also want to bring about employment, creating a brand for Rafala. In addition to creating the best education system for the children, I want to encourage research and bring innovation in the agriculture field,” Savjibhai said.
A village for daughters
In just two years, Rafala underwent remarkable change. 'Ladli Bhavan' were created, a concept that was a child conceived out of progressive ways and age-old culture. The Bhavan boasts hand prints of 451 women who married and went to their husbands houses, along with their photos and information including their memories. Savjibhai fondly calls it the 'Palace of Golden Village Rafala Princesses'.
Seven entrances and a four-in-one tower
Dedicated to the Param Vir chakra awardees, the village constructed the India Gate, Amar Jawan Jyoti and the Shaheedsmarak Chowk. Also constructed is a 42 foot tall four-in-one tower equipped with an announcement system, lighting and a clock. The village's entrance gate- Sardar Gate, is also beautifully created. It is just part of the area's seven entrances which are, Gandhi Gate, Ladli Gate, Mandir Gate, Muktidham Gate, Saraswati Gate and Haathi Gate. Also created is a Kranti Chowk which is dedicated to Subhashchandra Bose, Shahid Bhagat Singh, Swami Vivekanand, and Rani Laxmibai.
Rafala's Muktidham is based on scientific approach. It boasts of a 11 foot Shivling, a Shiv-Hanuman statue and a Bhalka Tirth replica. What catches the eye the most though is the Antim Sanskaar Shangaargruh. Speaking about the village's cemetery, Morari Bapu said, “I almost made up my mind of dying here, but I am yet to complete so many kathas.”
All Gods for One
Ramji Mandir, Paalanpir, Dadma Dada, Momai Mata, Devi Sheetadai, and other temples of Gods of different beliefs have been justly renovated. A brand new school was built along with the Saraswati temple. Roads, Panchayat Office, sheds for animals on all four corners of the village, and a specially-made dhobi-ghat for people of the village to wash their clothes, all adorn Rafala, setting it apart from other villages. Also available is Wi-Fi, underground gutter, and LED lights.