By Adil Jal Darukhanawala

What is Jawa Day? Is it another crassly commercial holiday as espoused by wasteful societies like the US of A – like Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, etc, (however laudable the original thought behind them)?  No, surely it’s the day we collectively marvel at two-stroke motorcycles designed and built in the former Czechoslovakia, and also in India, although they long having been consigned to history.

Yes they came in all shapes and sizes, bedecked and originals, used and abused, young and old, the camaraderie for a brand missing from the market for well nigh two decades was to be seen to be believed.[Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
For sure the answer is obvious, because Jawa Day 2018 was the 16th annual meet of Jawa enthusiasts the world over.  They didn’t need to all gather in one spot, but had many locations to delight in each others’ motorcycles, share the pains and pleasures of ownership, shoot the breeze of escapades astride them in the past, and also look forward to braving the future without any support on spares and knowledge…plus skill sets that are fast being depleted.

In any colour as long as it is in any colour, but for the better part of its existence Jawas in India only came in the crimson cream shade with a black following a little later. It was left to individual owners to repaint the bikes in the colour of their choice because the factory offerings were limited. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
There are well close to 45 biker communities exclusively for Jawa and Yezdi enthusiasts and owners in India, and practically all of them celebrated Jawa Day on July 8, 2018. Some cities have two to three Jawa – Yezdi Clubs (Yezdi being the Indian-built Jawa) who congregated separately and celebrated: Bengaluru and Pune come to mind straight off. I was told that Mysuru, the spiritual capital for Jawa and Yezdi owners, had no less than four Jawa-Yezdi groups celebrating these distinctive characterful two-strokes from the past! Nothing wrong I might hazard to say on the face of it. But collectively I think the movement could really get a move on – but hey this is India, don’t forget, so we will thrive in diversity if not in disarray!

Pill or pillion? Must be an enlightened biker having got helmets (however perfunctory) for his kids as they motored into the event venue. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
Jokes and wordplay aside, the enthusiasm on display was so smile-inducing and heartfelt that I think it augurs well for the impending relaunch of the Jawa brand back in India. However, one must certainly state that it is the owners of these classic Jawas and Yezdis who have kept the brand alive. The new entity should and must put in place a program to manufacture vital components for the more popular bikes that were made and sold in India, which would be ample reward for those who have kept faith in their bikes and the brand, and kept both alive.

There’s such a craze for Jawas and Yezdi to this day that enthusiastic owners deck up their two-wheeled babies with so many period accessories even when one knows that using these could be injurious to the bikes’ health! This exquisitely turned out 1964 Jawa in a superb shade of blue has not just a snow guard but also the engine covers to ape what the Czechs were used to in their long winters. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
I went to Bengaluru for the Jawa Day celebrations organised by the Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Motorcycle Sport Association or BJYMC, to see for myself the passion for these bikes. About 3-4 years ago, I had been party to Jawa Day celebrations in Pune with the late, great Noshir Irani, former Managing Director of Ideal Jawa, then a spritely 86-years, being in attendance and having the childlike enthusiasm for both the bikes and their owners. Over 325 bikes had assembled there on Pune’s East Street but in 2015 the BJYMC had got 537 Jawas, Yezdis and CZs together, which also netted them a mention in the Limca Book of Records! So when this year close to 500 of these bikes rode into the grounds of the St Joseph’s Technical Institute in Bengaluru city, it is was par for the course!

One of the richest royals in India – the Maharaja of Mysore invited the Irani family and Jawa to set up the factory in his city of Mysore and also gave them free land in the 1950s. This year his grandson and the present day Maharaja – Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wodeyar turned up to be part of the Jawa Day celebrations in Mysuru. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
Forget these large numbers, even Delhi with 38 bikes and close to twice the number of enthusiasts turning up indicated how small, dedicated Jawa-Yezdi aficionados came up to wave the flag. Even terrible storms and flooding so regular in Mumbai during the monsoons didn’t dampen spirits in the country’s commercial capital and just as many turned out there as well! Chennai, Chandigarh, Goa, Mangalore, Hyderabad, saw Jawa and Yezdis come out and make music with their ring-a-ding-ding exhaust notes proving that music and motorcycles are the joys of life.

I make no apologies for inserting yet one more image of the Yezdi 350 twin. It is now a prized cult classic among the biker set in India. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
Yours truly astride an early 1950-51 Jawa 175 in a shockingly wrong colour for India. The man on my right i the legendary racer, rallying and race bike constructor Somendar Singh. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
Hauled out of someone’s attic, these were modified Jawas used for a myriad of races all across southern India. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
Super combo of a 1961-62 Jawa 250 with a snow guard (for hot southern India?) and a delightful little PAV 40 trailer with all the right bits for hauling safely! [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
When in India do as the Red Indians do – with feathers! Probably misplaced zeal but if the bloke’s happy doing it who are we to judge him? [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
A trio of Yezdi 350s. These were among the last of the Jawa-inspired bikes built at Mysore in India with their twin-cylinder two-stroke piston-ported engines. [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
An original Jawa from the mid-1960s replete with bulb horn alongside its more modern Yezdi sibling which also sports a spare wheel thoughtful accessory but one which prevented spirited cornering! [Adil Jal Darukhanawala]
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