Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Girmitiya grandson pays tribute to his granddad and Girmitiyas.

A Girmitiya Grandson pays tribute to his forefathers from Italy

By Guest Writer, Ronald Ranjeet Roshan Singh


Fiji Girmit Foundation of New Zealand is creating awareness about indenture and Girmit history with the theme of: Reconnecting, reclaiming and restoring Indo-Fijian history.

The Foundation encourages and promotes commemoration of FIJI GIRMIT THANKSGIVING DAY on 14 May.


On Thanksgiving Day, Americans think of and honour those who sacrificed for America in creating a new homeland. On ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps), respective nationals think of their soldiers who fought for their countries and gave their lives. On Waitangi Day, New Zealanders mark that as a nation-building day. 

Then why should not Girmitiya descendant Fiji Indians, thank, honour and celebrate those who sacrificed their lives and gave us the comforsts that they themselves never dreamt of?

Here, we are showing the respect and honour a 4th generation Girmitiya great-granson for his forebears. Hope this enlightenment and enthusiasm for their heritage is held by other young generation in the Indo-Fijian (Fiji Indian) Diaspora (in overseas countries), enjoying the comforts and good life in Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Little do they realise that this is entirely due to sacrifices, suffering and  vision of those ordinary people with extra-ordinary resolve -our FIJI GIRMITIYAS.


Ronald Singh's Girmitiya great- grandfather Bansi, who came to Fiji during tail end of Indenture (Girmit) from Karouli, Rajasthan, India in in 1915. A Bansi Reunion was held in Surrey, Vancouver, Canada in 2015 and in Ba, Fiji in 2016. This was to enlighten the fourth and fifth generations born in Fiji and abroad, about their history, heritage and tales of forebears. People overseas in Indo-Fijian Diaspora are encouraged to further light this flame and have such reunions to tell the new generation about their history. There is need need for them to having pride in these ordinary people with extraordinary dreams, vision and resolve.

Ronald Ranjeet Roshan Singh is a fourth generation Girmitiya grandson, who was born in New Zealand and spent most of his life away from Fiji. He is son of FIJI PUNDIT, Thakur Ranjit Singh. On FIJI GIRMIT THANKSGIVING DAY, he remembers his grandparents and is thankful to and appreciates his Fiji heritage. And he does it from the shores of Lake Garda in Italy.

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is a popular holiday location and is located in Northern Italy, about half-way between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan.  Here he pays tribute to his maternal and paternal grandfathers.

Guest Writer, Ronald Ranjeet Roshan Singh, who loves travelling and writing, is a fourth generation Indo-Fijian, yet appreciative of the unique culture given by Girmitiyas (Indian Indentured Labourers) in Fiji. He wrote this article some over 20 months ago from Italy. He is son  of FIJI PUNDIT Blogger, Thakur Ranjit Singh- like father, like son- having respect for your heritage and "pitra devata" -the departed forebears.

Here is an extract from his diary:

"Fiji Girmit Ancestors” – entry written Lake Garda, Italy around 5:45 am Sunday September 22, 2013. I had just called and spoken to my dear parents in Auckland, New Zealand (11 hours ahead).

Beautiful lake Garda also produces beautiful thoughts about your forebears.. it is important for young generation to have pride in their heritage. Ronald's writing is a challenge to other young people to develop an interest in their history and heritage.

Here beside Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, in this moment, I am listening to Fiji Tambura Bhajan and Fiji Fagua; soulful, beautiful and unique music of my Fiji Girmit people created out of the hardships they endured. And I remember my two late grandfathers, Mr Hans Raj Singh and Mr Shiu Shankar. Truly great men."......And he continues this article.......

You both passed away when I was very young. Now, as a grown man who has traveled the world and is extremely thankful to have discovered himself, discovered the meaning of true, close friendship and discovered the meaning of life, your grandson is listening to music of our people so very, very far from tropical Fiji where your souls rest in peace.

Lake Garda, Italy
This moment reminds me of the hardships and sacrifices my people went through so that one day, their child could be learned and become a true Citizen of Earth and travel far and wide in comfort and reflect on his roots through soulful, beautiful and unique music. I kindly thank you Mr Hans Raj Singh and Mr Shiu Shankar and I kindly thank all you Girmitiyas.

Ronald Singh loves travelling. Here , he is seen in the upper deck of the largest passenger airline, Emirates Airbus A-380, on a trip from Melbourne to Auckland, where he travels often to see his parents and family. And he says he develops those writing thoughts when travelling.

This moment in time is for all you Girmitiyas. You are all here with me living, laughing and adventuring by the fresh waters of Lake Garda, Italy so very, very far from tropical Fiji. This is the precious result of your hardships and sacrifices. Not for one minute do I take this moment for granted. I truly count my blessings.

I have been blessed to be able to do so much in my life. I travel, I write, I surf, I ski, I skydive, I live life, I celebrate life. None of this would have been possible if it wasn't for your long term vision created from the difficulties you faced.  

Lake Garda, Italy
Words cannot describe how truly and kindly thankful I am to you all. Thank you so very much. And I promise you with all my heart that one day, my children and grandchildren will thank you as well.

Bless the precious souls of my two late grandfathers, Mr Hans Raj Singh and Mr Shiu Shankar. Truly great men. Bless the precious souls of the Girmitiyas. Truly great people.

Your forever thankful son, Ronnie (Mr Global Pacific Brother!)”

[E-mail: singhronald@hotmail.com]

[About the Author: Ronald (Ranjeet Roshan) Singh is a New Zealand -born Kiwi who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Like his father, Thakur Ranjit Singh, he has got a flare and interest in writing. He intends to write a book on his travels and experience. He has a special Facebook page for his travels and views: "The Dancing Voyager-Ron Singh"