Let's get fijical!
By Tanya Chaitanya, Times News
Tuesday, June 01, 2004 02:55:41 AM
Ulta Pradesh for some, Uttam Pradesh for
others. For all the titles which have been lumped upon it,
Uttar Pradesh is happiest when called UP, symbolic of it's
ascent, straight up on the world map. Which is why suddenly
Bhojpuri singers are in demand in Fiji and kathak is the dance
form, which has Aussies twirling around in circles. So much so
that performers from UP are special invitees to the
International Girmitiya Diwas, involving descendants of
indentured Indians, to be held in Fiji in September and later
at Sydney, this year.
The ex- Prime Minister of Fiji, Mahendra
Chaudhry, a Girmitiya, has written letters inviting the UP
culture department to send in performers from Uttar Pradesh
for a very special item during the festival. Later the
International Girmit Congress in Sydney , to be scheduled just
before the Olympics is also relying heavily on artistes from
For the record, girmits or girmitiyas, as
they are called are indentured Indians, who originally hail
from Eastern UP or Bihar . The term girmit or girmityas arose
because the indentured Indians could not pronounce the word
'agreement', which they signed to become indentured labourers,
when migrating outside their country. They called it girmit.
The word stuck.
Abhishek Singh, Special Secretary, Culture
Department says, "We are working out details of which
artistes to send abroad. Maybe Manoj Tiwari, famous Bhojpuri
singer or some popular kathak troupe will be decided upon
soon. There should be 6 or so shows in Fiji . We want to send
our artistes to Sydney as well just before the Olympics to get
a wider platform."
Initially some one million girmitiyas were
taken mainly by the British Raj to work on their sugar cane
plantations. Now numbering some ten million the majority of
the descendants of girmitiyas still live in the countries
where the girmityas were originally taken to. They include
Mauritius , South Africa , Guyana , Surinam , Trinidad &
Tobago and Fiji . However a fair proportion of a million live
in the western world including the UK , Holland , USA , Canada
, Australia and New Zealand .
Satish Rai, a film-maker who has made three
documentaries on the girmitiya community feels, "Not just
abroad, an International Girmitiya diwas should specially be
held in UP as well, because it is the native place of this
populace. About 75% of the Girmitiya population comes from UP.
Lucknow has the infrastructure to organise and host such
event. In the case of NRIs, these migrants from Indian states
such as Punjab and Gujarat have contributed enormously towards
economical growth of their respective states. Same can be done
by the PIOs (People of Indian Origin) for the economy of Uttar
Pradesh, Bihar , Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu."
It's time for Bhojpuri sangeet to drown out
the Bhangra pop abroad.