A Fiji University Celebrates ‘Hindi Diwas’ with Focus on History of Girmit Laborers

On the day of the popular ‘Hindi Diwas’, that is celebrated to honor and promote both the Hindi-speaking community of the world and the national language of India- Hindi; an amazing program was held in the University of the South Pacific

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Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia
  • The Girmitiyas’ descendants spread up through the passage of time to influence the Fijian culture and politics
  • On  ‘Hindi Diwas’, that is celebrated to honor and promote the national language of India- Hindi; an amazing program was held at the University of the South Pacific.
  • The program included a Hindi essay competition and a movie screening, both focussed on the history of the Girmit Laborers

Sept 30, 2016: The relation of the Indians with Fiji goes long back to the time of 1879. That was the year when the British colonialists took the contracted laborers from across India, transporting a huge section of the population to Fiji archipelago. On 14th May 1879, a ship named ‘Leonidas’ arrived with indentured laborers from India to Fiji and that system of bringing laborers got popularized as “Girmits”; coined from the mispronounced term ‘agreement’ by the laborers who didn’t speak English.

The Girmits are the foundation of the Indo-Fijian history. After the agreements of the laborers had ended and the long-term torment of them was over, they had to stay back in Fiji following circumstances. From 1879 to 1916, Fiji saw the arrival of some 60,600 Girmitiyas through almost 87 voyages. After the end of the “girmit” contract period, their gradual settlement included the economical rise and the elevation of Indian culture, food, education, traditions began to flow.

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The multiple obstacles that the Girmitiyas had to face strengthened their fight and political participation of the Indians got gradually accepted. The Girmitiyas’ descendants spread up through the passage of time to influence the Fijian culture and politics.

To remain affixed to the culture, the Indians in Fiji have been putting constant efforts by celebrating cultural events and building temples as a sacred venue for holding matrimonial ceremonies. The ‘Arya Samaj’ in Fiji is a body that promotes Hinduism.

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One of the most major aspects that the intermingling of the Indo-Fiji culture holds the record of is the language. A new lingo was evolved through the multiple generations of the Indians who had settled in Fiji.

On the day of the popular ‘Hindi Diwas’, that is celebrated to honor and promote both the Hindi-speaking community of the world and the national language of India- Hindi; an amazing program was held at the University of the South Pacific. The program included a Hindi essay competition on the topic- ‘Girmit History’ as reported by Vishvas Sapkal, the high commissioner of India to Fiji. This also followed an award ceremony and Ms. Ranjini Raj won a trip to India of 25 days long.

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University of South Pacific. Wikipedia
The university of South Pacific. Wikimedia

Apart from that, a movie based on Girmit history by Dr. Mohit Prasad was also screened on the program. The movie is named ‘A for Apple’ and it received huge applause.

Hindi Diwas was celebrated with pomp and vigor at the University of South Pacific and as per the schedule, it started the celebration from 25th of September 2016.

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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