In order to appreciate the history and magnitude of the Kanara Saraswat Association, we have only to transport ourselves in imagination to the seventies of the nineteenth century and form an idea of the conditions which the early batch of Bhanap immigrants to Mumbai faced at the time.
Mumbai was already becoming familiar to our people in Karwar as the scene of activities of the Late Shri Shamrao Vithal Kaikini and his nephew the Late Sir Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar.
The first batch of Bhanaps did not fail to avail itself of the good offices of Shri Shamrao Vithal Kaikini and his worthy wife Smt. Subhadrabai , who were all kindness to the newcomers.
Being strangers to Bombay they set up a club for boarding and lodging in the immediate neighbourhood of Shri Shamrao Vithal Kaikini’s residence in Kandewadi and pursued their studies in the fostering care of this couple. The club later on moved to Shantaram’s Chawl in Mugbhat. It increased in membership with the new batch of young, ambitious students who began to flock Mumbai in search of employment.
As years passed on, Bhanap families began to migrate to Mumbai and the Club also changed its premises which was by now known as the ‘Kanara Club’.
As the Saraswat families increased in Mumbai and also the Hostel accommodation provided by the colleges for their students, the need for such a club declined and it came to a close in 1892.
Although the Kanara Club was dissolved, the exigencies of social life necessitated a more suitable organisation for the purpose and the answer was ‘ The Chitrapur Club’ that was started under the initiative of the late Shri Shamrao Vithal Kaikini just about 1892. Unfortunately with the outbreak of plague in Mumbai , the Club had to be dissolved. The surplus of this extinct Club were carried over to form the nucleus of the funds of the ‘Friend’s Social group’ yet to come, the historic predecessor of The Kanara Saraswat Association.
The ‘Friends’ Social Club’ which was started in July, 1911 was yet another landmark in the social life of our people. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, the Bhanaps in Mumbai numbered not more than a few hundreds and most of them were residing in Topiwala’s Buildings, Bhalchandra Chawl, Lakudwallah’s Chawl, Javji’s building, Pannalal terraces etc.
The tedium of office drudgery and the need of social intercourse drove some of them to start this new group at the rooms jointly owned by late Shri M. Mughwe and late Shri B. Dattaram , which they named “Friends’ Social Club”. The Club started by a ‘lucky thirteen’ as one account puts it, was a meeting place for no higher purpose then that of playing cards and Ganjipha at night and on holidays and indulging in light social talk over a cup of tea and biscuits.
A few months later, the late Rao Bahadur Talmaki, with his flair for practical idealism and purposive planning, introduced the idea of converting the Club into an Association. He suggested that the Club might be used for doing some useful work for the betterment of the community instead of merely playing games and indulging in idle talk. The idea caught on and early in November 1911, the executive met in the Club premises, a small hired room at 3rd Cross Lane, Chunam Lane, Grant Road to determine the scope and functions of the Association and to draw up a plan of work.
Later on 26 November 1911, a special general meeting of all the easily accessible local members of the community was called, the Draft Rules and Regulations were adopted, and the Club was renamed as “The Kanara Saraswat Association”.
An Advisory Board and the managing Committee was formed. The honour of being the First President of the association was conferred on Shri S.S. Talmaki and that of being the first Chairman of the Managing Committee on Shri G.P. Murdeshwar.
The Association was registered in 1934 under Section XXI of the Societies Act, 1860.
The Association had for its aims and objectives :
(a) To foster a spirit of brotherhood and co-operation among the members of the Kanara Saraswat Association.
(b) To provide facilities for social intercourse by holding social gatherings, conversational meetings etc.
(c) To organise social service.
(d) To convene communal conferences.
(e) Generally to do all such acts and things as are deemed necessary the promotion of intellectual, moral, social, physical, economic and general well being of the members of the community: provided that the Association shall not carry out political propaganda.