First Ever Boat Float Procession Commemorating Girmit Day

The Girmit Carnival in Labasa lived up to its pre-carnival expec­tations and has stamped a mark of being the newest and one of the most entertaining carnivals to date.
17 May 2022 11:59
First Ever Boat Float Procession Commemorating Girmit Day
Members from the Labasa Multicultural Centre in collaboration with the Labasa Town Council organised a first-ever boat float procession at Labasa River to commemorate Girmit Day celebrations on May 15, 2022. Photo: Samprs Anand

A first-ever boat float proces­sion was arranged at La­basa River on Saturday to commemorate the 143rd anniver­sary of the arrival of Girmitiyas to Fiji.

Labasa Multicultural Centre Ad­ministrator, Prabha Naicker, said the boat ride depicted the carrier ship ‘Leonidas’ which brought In­dian citizens to work in Fiji.

Ms Naicker said their forefathers and ancestor’s contributions in the sugarcane fields of Fiji paved the way for the current prosperous and independent Fijian population of Indian descent.

She said despite the struggles during those colonial days, their ancestors persisted through time and continued to practice their re­ligious beliefs with the same deter­mination.

“It is our responsibility that we preserve these customs and reli­gious beliefs so that our children are in line with our beliefs,” she said.

May 14th marked the anniversary of the arrival of the indentured labourers, the Girmits, to Fiji 143 years ago and the special function in Subrail Park was organised to celebrate this day.

Chief guest at the Girmit Day, Ha­zeem Hussein, said remembering the struggles and contributions of their forefathers

Mr Hussein advised parents to continue emphasising to their children their participation in cul­tural activities and understanding the significance of the customs that define their true identity.

“We must stick to our culture, language and maintain our close relationship with our roots,” he said.

He thanked the Girmit celebra­tions committee for organising this wonderful Remembrance Day.

His grandfather, Ali Hussein, came from a village in Uttar Pradesh, India, and he was able to relive the humble beginnings of his ancestors when he visited India.

Overwhelming Support, Girmit Carnival to become yearly event: Kohli

The Girmit Carnival in Labasa lived up to its pre-carnival expec­tations and has stamped a mark of being the newest and one of the most entertaining carnivals to date.

Labasa/Savusavu Town Council special administrator’s chairper­son, Ami Kohli, said it was encour­aging to witness the large crowd that came and supported their first-ever Girmit carnival and pro­grammes.

Mr Kohli thanked their Girmit carnival organising committee and said they were eager to make the carnival a yearly event for all.

“Now, if you look at this year, it appears as if the Girmit carnival has been going on for many years, so it’s a good start and we will con­tinue to make the carnival even better next year,” he said.

“When you look at the crowd they have not moved and are enjoying the old tribal folk songs, Girmit dances and the different instru­ments that are being played,” he said.

This shows that people do appre­ciate these old Girmit traditions and want to remember the contri­butions they made to our beloved country.

He said they would continue with the one-week carnival format next year and they plan to form a prepa­ration committee.

This committee would look at planning in advance by reaching out and travelling to interior areas in Vanua Levu to encourage people to attend the festivities and partic­ipate in their Girmit programme.



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