A group of D.A.V. College, Ba, Fiji students organised and met in Burnaby Canada in April, 2015. This small meeting developed into formation of country – branches with an international focus. The next Reunion is schedule for Auckland in 2017. A Historical 2015 DAV, Ba Reunion in Vancouver brought back old memories, and thoughts of those no longer around.
On a crispy and slightly chilly evening of 4 April, 2015 in Vancouver, as I walked into Royal Palace Banquet Hall in Edmonds Street Burnaby, I expectantly hoped to be met by a throbbing crowd of old mates from D.A.V. College, Ba, Fiji. After all it was the first overseas D.A.V Reunion.
|The welcome banner at D.A.V. College Ba Reunion in Barnaby, Canada at Royal Palace Banquet Hall|
D.A.V College in Ba in 1970s was a very conservative school. It was so with equally conservative strict teachers who were imported from India, who ensured boy-girl relationship was frowned upon, and any relationship, even talking was seen suspiciously, and considered a sin, despite the religion teaching the virtues of love. This was to such an extent that, I think in 1972, even our compounds were divided into two sections which were sexually segregated, for a short-while. Despite these strict rules and nonsensical restrictions by “Mohabbat ke Dushman ‘ (Enemies of love), love affairs flourished, love-letters changed hands and there were at least there couples from the class of 1970s who were instituted in the Lovers Hall of Fame – but that later.
|The Class of 1970s- a group-shot of students from 1970-1975|
|Mahendra Pratap, the principal of the school from 1969 to 1971. He was a very likable, popular, humble and soft-spoken principal. He passed away in a car accident in 1976. May your soul rest in peace, Guruji.|
|Ajai Singh was principal of the school from 1979 to 1988.. He closely worked with Arya Samaj which ran the school and worked tirelessly to raise the standard of education at the school. He passed away in 1996.|
The other teacher we know who passed away is Prem Chand Bhalla, who taught at DAV in early 70s. Mrs. Gupta, our Hindi teacher of 1973, mother of our English Teacher Nisha Singh and mother-in- law of former principal, Satendra Singh, also passed away in India. Some students of our time who we know passed away are Usman Ali, Farouk Ali, Rajesh Prasad and Raj Kumar, all in Fiji and Bimal Chand Maharaj in Stockton, California, USA. May the prayers of all us DAVian schoolmates be with the departed ones. Time goes, you say. Oh no, alas, time stays, we go. Rest in peace.
Apart from these condolences, there were some good news. Two DAV authors were inducted in Intellectual Hall of Fame. The first one was Pratap Chand who was Minister for Education in Chaudhry Government between 1999 and 2000. In September, 2013 he launched his book on the experience growing up in the cane farms in rural Tavua, and about his life out of village while teaching, in trade union and as a politician. The book is titled, A Fijian Memoir: The Footprints of a Girmitiya’s Grandson.
The other D.A.V author in the Intellectual Hall of Fame is Rajendra Prasad, who, after seven years of research on the untold and stolen history of Fiji, wrote the book, Tears in Paradise: Sufferings and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004. He is also a very good national and international columnist. Indeed we in D.A. V. family are honoured to have these two smart intellectuals who were in DAV from 1961 to 1965.
The other induction was the Lovers Hall of Fame. As earlier stated, despite the strict rules of the school, they could not tie down or restrict the feelings of lovers. There are at least three teachers I know who ended up marrying the lovers they met at D.A.V. However, the subject here is that of students who met at the school and ended up marrying, and being married successfully, with grandchildren. There are three know people who were inducted in this Fame.
The first is Raftar Ahmad (Rarawai) and Inahtul Nisha (Yalalevu), who met at DAV, became lovers and were married and are now settled in Surrey, (Vancouver) Canada. They were present at the Reunion in Burnaby. The other students in this category are no other than yours truly, (Thakur) Ranjit Singh (Rarawai) and Shashi Kala (Lausa). We both had travelled down to Canada for other family functions, but also to attend the reunion. The other couple who were inducted in absentia were Sada Sivan Naicker (Nakavika-Makai Pahar) and Sarita Devi (Wailailai). At least in case of Raftar and Sada, there were some overprotective brothers and other relatives, but love conquers all. As Shakespeare said, all’s well that ends well.
|Yours truly, (Thakur) Ranjit and Shashi Kala Singh, who were the third couple to be inducted in Lovers Hall of Fame. They met in D.A..V in 1973 and were married in 1979, and have been married with grandchildren for over three decades.|
Some of the Class of 1970s were not satisfied with one night of outing, and decided to meet the following day at Sant Sharma’s place in Vancouver. In this event, old mates sang Rajesh Khanna song of their days and took quality time out to walk down the memory lane.
Positive developments came out of this event when some people got together and formally formed D.A.V College (Ba) Fiji of BC. Raymond Raj of Kitimat, BC is the President and he will form a committee and unite former D.A. V. students in British Columbia.
|The meeting of DAVians at Sant Sharmas place, continuing with the party. From left, sitting in front, Thakur Ranjit Singh, Shashi Kala Singh, Raymond Raj and Deo Mani. Back, standing, extreme left, Raj Kumar, Vijay Nair and host Sant Sharma.|
At the same time, D.A. V. College, (Ba) Fiji International was also launched with the following Country Presidents: Canada -Raymond Raj, USA - Deo Mani, New Zealand –Thakur Ranjit Singh, Fiji - Sada Siwan Naicker and Australia - Sanat Pandey. Yours truly Thakur Ranjit Singh is tasked to head the International wing for time being, and see that the respective country Presidents create awareness and form committees within their respective countries. We are planning for future get-together and reunion around the world in Indo-Fijian Diaspora where we have DAV Students. The next event is planned for DAV Reunion in Auckland in May, 2017.
|A Historic shot, showing meeting of formation of DAV British Columbia and DAV International reunion. From left, Raymond Raj, Jiten Singh, Thakur Ranjit Singh and Sant Sharma|
Hope to see you in my hometown in Auckland in mid-May, 2017 in New Zealand. We will confirm details later. So keep in touch through Facebook - D.A.V. College, Ba, Fiji Reunion 2015.
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh joined D.A.V. College, Ba, Fiji in 1970 and finished in 1973 when many is his class moved over to Khalsa College, Ba, Fiji to do form six which then was not conducted at D.A.V. Later he joined University, but as covered in the story, met his wife in the school like two of his other classmates. He hopes to bring the students together in respective countries where they are settled.