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Gopio en images - Bihar Day in Mauritius-PHOTOS 2011

Bihar Day in Mauritius-PHOTOS 2011

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Bihar Day Celebrated in Mauritius

Bihar Year will be celebrated with great pump and fervour in 2012”-Honorable Mukeshwar Choonee, Minister of Arts and Culture.

 

Bihar Day was celebrated on 22nd March 2011 at the iconic site of the Aapravasi Ghat, the very site of the disembarkation of almost 450 000 indentured Indian immigrant, mostly from Bihar and Bhojpuri speaking on Mauritian soil. This was a highly symbolical event.

 

Gopio International took the initiative to commemorate Bihar Day in Mauritius under the aegis of the Ministry of Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund, the Hindi Speaking Union, the Islamic Cultural Centre and other major socio-cultural organisations.

 

In his address, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mukeshwar Choonee, said that the celebration of Bihar Day in Mauritius was of great historical significance. It marks the presence of thousands of indentured Indian workers on contract of five years crossed the “Kala Pani” from Calcutta the port of embarkation as from 2nd November 1834. This first experiment “to Mauritius proved so successful that soon other plantation colonies engaged in this lucrative transaction to build the wealth of the colonial masters be they British, French or Dutch. These colonies included besides Mauritius, South Africa, Surinam, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Guadeloupe and Martinique and Reunion Island. Though workers on contract were recruited from the then Madras Presidency, the French comptoire of Pondicherry, Karikal etc.., Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the major recruitments were made from the Bhojpuri speaking belt of the Gangetic Plains in what was then known as the Oudh, Bengal and Bihar Presidency. Mukeshwar Choonee remarked that today the descendants of those Swathy Biharis have made of Mauritius a home away from home-the Bhojpuri Mati: He noted that it is indeed a matter of great rejoice that the government of Bihar under the able and firm committed leadership of its dynamic chief Minister Shri Nitisih Kumar has initiated the projects of Bihar. Foundation and resurgent Bihar. These definitely make migrant workers to USA, UK, Australia, and the Gulf countries as well as earlier migrant workers to plantation colonies feel proud of their Bihar roots.

 

Mr. Choonee further stated that his Ministry will take the initiative of celebrating the hundred years of the creation of Bihar with great pomp and fervour in 2012, an event that definitely will connect us further with our roots. This connectivity is essential for the flourishing of a people. He thanked the government of Bihar for establishing “The trace your roots center” which will see the emergence of an immigration museum in Patna.

 

Mahyendrah Utchanah, Gopio International President, said that he was happy that the Ministry of Arts and Culture acted promptly upon his suggestion that Bihar Day be celebrated in Mauritius. He recalled that it was under the initiative of GOPIO International that the Bihar Week was celebrated with great fervor and intensity in Mauritius in July 2007 which saw a first ever ten-day visit of a Chief Minister of Bihar in the person of Shri Nitish Kumar. Mr Nitish Kumar who headed a 50-strong delegation on a state visit to Mauritius paved the way for the deepening of the already existing bond between Bihar and Mauritius. This saw the visit of Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius to Bihar and his ancestral village of Harigaon and the inauguration of a life sized statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, father of the Mauritian nation in Gandhi Maidan in Patna and the consequent naming of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Marg in Central Patna City.

Mahen Utchanah made several pertinent proposals during his intervention such as the twining of Port-Louis and Patnato begin with to mark the hundred years of Bihar and the subsequent twinning of Ara with Goodlands, as well as other places like Chopra, Gaya from where large numbers of Mauritians of Bihari origins can trace their roots.

Other proposals made by Mahen Utchanah include:

  • A Bhojpuri Film Festival

  • The organization of a football match between Bihar and Mauritius

  • A intercultural exchange

  • A business interaction between Mauritius and Bihar

  • A big Bihar trade fair in Mauritius which will equally highlight the crafts and arts of Bihar as well as the cultural and esthetic values and its cuisine.

  • A youth exchange program

  • An international Bhojpuri Conference among others

H.H Mohamandleshwar Swami Dr. Umakantanand Saraswatiji Maharaj, who is of Bihari origin spoke in chaste Bhojpuri and highlighted the ancient glories of Bihar.

The origin of Bihar is from VIhar which signifies purposeful wandering which definitely dates back to the remarkable wanderings of Gatama Buddha and his disciples which set the base for the spread of Buddhism to Afghanistan, China and South East Asia. The Swamiji gave several other examples of towering historical and spiritual and literary figures who are of Bihari origin such as Raja Janak, father of Sita, Gautam Rishi, Mahavir founder of Jainism, Chanakya, Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Emperors such as Chandragupta. He recalled the great expanse of the Magadh Empire which had as its capital Pataliputra-modern Patna and which spread from Aghanistan to the bay of Bengal.


The Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund organized a vibrant display of cultural activities which included performances of “sanskar” folk songs by tradition bearers. Some samples of “Sattu’ by Women of Jagriti Co-operative Society delighted the palate of the guests. Jatsar songs and other Bhojpuri wedding songs preserved remarkably to date an intangible heritage of the indentured immigrants and their descendants.

The members of the Islamic Cultural Centre gave a demonstration of the fabulous Mehendi culture. Mr Guruduth Chuttoo also known as Ustad Raja, the magician who has traced his origin in Jharkhand, displayed some of his exhibits from a remarkable collection of artifacts such as a huge traditional dhol, milk cans of immigrants, ancient handwritten Ramayana, and agricultural tools. A photo immigration of immigrants also accompanied the event.

 

Mr Raju Mohit, office in charge of the Aapravasi Ghat recalled that the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund (AGTF) is embarked on a project to preserve the intangible heritage of the indentured immigrants a major criterion upon which the Aapravasi Ghat gained recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.

 

Dr Sarita Boodhoo

Director,

Mauritius Bhohpuri Institute,

Secretary General

International Bhojpuri Secretariat

And Assistant Secretary General

GOPIO Mauritius

 

 
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