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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
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  • 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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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC