Replica ship leads parade
Fiji Times, Saturday, May 15, 2004
A replica of the Leonidas, the ship in which
the first Indian indentured labourers arrived in May 14, 1879,
was paraded through the streets of Suva yesterday to
commemorate the 125th girmit anniversary.
A march followed the procession while one of
the Indian traditional drums (dapla) and the Fiji Police Band
played away to entertain and further attract the crowd that
gathered to watch.
Owner of Reddy's Enterprise Limited and the
Fiji Girmit Council chairman Yanktesh Permal Reddy said the
girmityas were of distinct background who had enriched Fiji
with a cultural diversity and prosperity from which everyone
"Although the era was of pain and
suffering, they taught us how to live side by side with each
other, they left us a legacy of multiculturalism which we all
have a lot to learn from," he said.
Mr Reddy said it was the spirit and their
legacy, which the people should not allow to diminish.
Suva City Council Girmit celebrations
committee chairman and Deputy Mayor Councillor Sashi Singh
said it was a day to remember in the history of Fiji and for
"The arrival of the Indians, who first
came to Fiji contributed to Fiji's economy and the sugar
industry and this is the way in which we acknowledge
them," he said.
Mr Singh said the first coup, which occurred
on the same day in 1987, was just a coincidence.
The council spent $7000 to make the replica
ship, Leonidas and it took them about three weeks to prepare.
Suva Branch Girmit celebrations Committee
Chairman Joel Sahai said the significance of the first coup
for Fiji was just a coincidence, which they did want to link
with the girmit celebrations.
"The arrival of the indentured
labourers is part of Fiji's history and we should not forget
that, especially since we are now benefiting from the sugar
industry which flourished earlier and changed our
economy," he said.