Gujarati at the University of Toronto
The mother tongue of both Mohandas K. Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Gujarati boasts a rich and vibrant religious literature dating back centuries. Over the course of its history, Gujarat became a centre for many religious communities, including such groups as the Swami Narayan Hindus, the Parsi Zoroastrians, the Jains, and Muslim communities such as Memons, Ithna ‘Asharis and Ismailis. With its long coastline and mercantile traditions, Gujarat is the ancestral home of a significant percentage of the South Asian diaspora, and one should not be surprised to find Gujarati street signs in Zanzibar, tombstones in Oman, or restaurants in London. In Toronto, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir with its 24,000 pieces of hand-carved Italian Carrara marble and the Ismaili Centre Toronto with its crystalline frosted glass dome and serene public gardens are both architectural marvels that cater to congregations with significant Gujarati components. The largest Zoroastrian place of worship outside of India is expected to be built in Oakville, Ontario.
The University of Toronto has previously hosted the international Gujarat Studies Conference, and research on Gujarati religious communities is conducted by faculty members Shafique Virani and Enrico Raffaelli.
For those with semi-native or native fluency, Gujarati literature and manuscript traditions can be studied with Shafique Virani.