The Girmitiyas – as the first generation Indian settlers of Fiji were known as – were acknowledged for their two precious gifts to the future descendants – social equality and preservation of culture.
The speakers called upon everyone to feel that sense of pride which is unique to the Fiji-Indian community.
The subliminal Indian-connect
Another notable, though commonly missed observation is the rich and intrinsic connectedness with everything related to Indian history, heritage and culture.
It might be apt to assert on the occasion of the 139th anniversary of Fiji-Girmit Day celebrations in New Zealand that the time has come to build new bridges and keep working on already existing bridges, between the Fiji-Indian community and the wider Indian diaspora.
The manner in which different speakers invoked, almost subconsciously, references from India’s log civilisational, political, social, religious, and spiritual history is a powerful statement of the innate subliminal connect between Fiji-Indian and the Indian.
Say, for instance, to emphasise the importance of a mother in one’s life; Master Shiu Charan told the audience a story about the great Indian philosopher, thinker and strategist – Kautilya or Chanakya. The story, though meant to convey high reverence to all mothers, supposedly attributed to great scholar Chanakya, also demonstrated how elements of Indian culture have travelled and persisted within the descendants of first generation settlers who have left India about hundreds of years ago.
Similarly, Sardar Harnam Singh Golian referred to the esteemed Sikh Guru Nanakdev to emphasise the importance of the mother.
The list was long and illustrious, what it brought out was the sense of spiritual, philosophical connection between members of the Indian diaspora, which needs to be cherished and promoted in present times.
Six years of NZ Fijian Senior Citizen Association.