A meeting by Concerned Community Group was held at Mt Roskill Village, Auckland on 1 August, 2015, to further the crusade against fake witch doctors from India. The meeting was well attended by representatives of the community and a good contingent of main stream media hardly seen in any ethnic issues. These included TV 3, Newstalk ZB (Mediaworks), Fairfax (Stuff) and NZME which owns NZ Herald. The only Indian media which cared to attend was Radio Tarana.
The reason lies in our upbringing which is deeply rooted in history. Indo-Fijians in Fiji are people of Indian origin, but very distinct from Indians from the mainland India. We have one common distinct language and have a culture and tradition somewhat different for the better, in many respects because of a century apart. Torn away from India over 136 years ago as Indentures labourers, and disowned by Bharat Mata (Mother India) to some extent, the indentured labourers suffered terribly at the hands of the colonist who ran an axis of evil comprising Britain, Australia and Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR). You can get an insight into this through Rajendra Prasad’s book on sacrifices and suffering of Indians in indenture, “Tears in Paradise” They are a distinct breed of people, molded from people from all sections of India when we were thrown into the same pot of Indenture or Girmit.
One needs to understand and appreciate that these simple village illiterate folks went through baptism of fire in very difficult Fiji Girmit environment. They sought salvage in the religious scriptures, mostly Ramayan. Hence the successive generations of Indo-Fijians were brought up, heavily influenced by religious teaching and tradition, with deep belief in God and miracles. One very important aspect of this was the version of Ramayan, which amply promoted caste system, male chauvinism and superiority of Brahmins to a state that it infringes with human rights policies of modern India today.
It has also been a common practice in Fiji to have many so-called Mandirs, (temples) where some people could claim to have shadows of Gods, especially Mata or female deity on them and used powers to “heal” people. Such temples thrived in Ba, an area I come from, and I have personally being a victim of this trickery and false belief. There were also small time witchdoctors fooling the people and benefiting from ignorance of people and their gullibility, rooted in belief in miracles. But not much money changed hands in Fiji, while there were small gains, like karia murga and daru (black rooster and whisky).
Some Indo Fijians even prayed to souls or spirit of indigenous Fijians, known as “Taukei” and claim to foretell things by means that included looking in grog basin or tanoa. That is where I joked why not any such witch doctor could locate the missing MH370 in a grog basin. These things and belief in supernatural powers were practised openly in Fiji and has been cause of great deal of enmity between feuding families, and continues now –in Fiji and overseas. My own family and village has numerous tales like these, and I am sure many others have tales to tell about such deceit and trickery. Such practices seemed to have become part of our culture, and tradition.
They say, old habits die hard, and hence we Indo-Fijians have been in quicksand of tunt ghunt (loosely translated as hogwash and bullshit) for generations. My loose way of expressing truth has created tension with some Brahmins and friends. This was when I posted on Facebook that even if a dog shits in shape of a snake, some people will run to it to pray the Snake God. Our belief in anything that remotely resembles any miracle or deity were considered holy, whether a cow with three eyes, a person claiming to be Hanuman (Monkey God) , a mushroom growing in shape of a snake, or other accidents of biology. And this was through our upbringing and teaching of Hinduism that God resides in all His creation, hence our praying of idols. This was covered in my earlier posting of Lord Shiv statue in Auckland, and explains the rationale of praying to statues.
With this also goes the notion of “Gurumukh” or having a mentor or teacher, which was more relevant when we did not have modern teaching facilities in India during time of Ram and Krishna. It has been preached that one cannot find salvation without a Guru, and no offerings or “daan” are acceptable without having a Guru. And this has become a lucrative business for some “professional” Gurus from India roaming Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia for “fat lambs” especially from vulnerable Indo-Fijian Hindus, brainwashed in this ancient requirement. I am told about cases in USA and even in New Zealand where some Gurus have special recruiting agents to “seek” lucrative Indo-Fijians as their chela or disciples, as these people from India know our weakness and vulnerability in having undying faith in Pundits and Gurus from the land of Ram and Krishna. But they forget that my children and theirs have learnt and will learn from their parents, universities, and there is Guru Google Baba – no need for those from India for next generation of Indo-Fijians.
Now to Auckland Gurus/witchdoctors, who know the art of fooling, luring and “seducing” Indo- Fijians. They give their evil deed the name of Hindu deities: Ram, Bhadra Kali, Durga, Sai, Hanuman etc astrology/palm reading etc. And most Indian media give “oxygen” to these fraud through misleading advertisements.
And lo and behold, Indo-Fijians bite the hook, line and sinker. Jai bolo beimaan ki.. hail the swindlers. And that is the reasons why such Gurus and con men have Indo-Fijians as their major “clients”- we are indeed very vulnerable.
It is the way we are –being gullible and seemingly simpleton is our heritage.
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a community leader based in Auckland, who runs his blog site FIJI PUNDIT that tells the tales that other media fails to tell].