Thakur Ranjit Singh
This can also be said of third and fourth generation Girmitiya children as they gathered in Auckland for another reunion –an international one. The first one was in Burnaby (Vancouver) Canada in 2015, and this one was in Auckland on 13 May, 2017. (And the next one will be in Ba, Fiji in 2019)
The night of 13 May, 2017 at Skipton Hall in Mangere, South Auckland was a complete different atmosphere. The hall had seen so many wedding, log geet, bhajan competitions, Ram Lila, Ramayan Sammelan, Girmit Remembrance, but this night was different. Talking about Girmit Remembrance, yes, it was a night to meet long departed friends, school mates, like in the legend of Krishna-Sudama. And indeed it was a salute to Girmitiyas, who ensured their off-springs had education facilities which the British colonisers did not provide for children of Girmitiyas, to keep them enslaved in cane farms. But we salute Arya Samaj, Muslim league, Sangam, Sanatan, Khalsa and so on, as our Girmitiyas of different faiths had vision for their children and invested in education.
THE NIGHT OF DAV STUDENTS, TAKING AN INTERNATIONAL FLAVOUR: 2015 in Vancouver, Canada, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand, 2019 to be in Ba/Lautoka-Fiji, 2021 - Brisbane, Australia (proposed)
It was not only a night for speeches, dance drink and food. It was also a night where tribute was paid to those teachers and students who have passed away. An emotion-packed tribute video presentation was shown as a tribute to those DAV family who have left us. It brought tears into eyes of many present there, especially those whose loved ones had passed away.
|Former principal, Mahendra Pratap, posthumously recognised and awarded.|
|Former Principal, Ajai Singh, also posthumously recognised and awarded. Another former Principal, Shri Manna Narayan was also recognised.|
The night was not only for students, but also teachers who were respected, honoured and called on stage. Former teacher and now a Hindu priest in Brisbane, Master Sanat Kumar Pandey, spoke for the teachers, and spoke about the pride they see in seeing their plants giving out fruits of success.
|THE NIGHT FOR STUDENTS AND ALSO FOR TEACHERS: DAV Teachers were also recognised, appreciated and respected in this night for the former students. Pictured are some of the teachers present in the Reunion night.|
|Former Teacher, Bal Ram, presenting DAV Recognition Award to Gaffar Ahmed, former Fiji Parliamentarian, for leadership, politics and community services.|
A very sumptuous meal was served, and people enjoyed themselves to their heart’s content with free alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and, of course, no Fiji function is complete without unlimited supply of grog. As the President, your truly, Thakur Ranjit Singh was blessed with the knowledge, teachings and guidance that our DAV teachers gave to former students. That produced a well-oiled organising committee for DAV Reunion. Mahendra Singh as Secretary, Muni Ratnam Krishna as Treasurer, and the headquarters/secretariat and management support provided by Purshottam Krishna. His accounting office at Puhinui Road was our meeting place. We also were blessed with expertise of Bikal Tahal, Sanit Lal, Tarun Bala, Chandrika Prasad and most important, our women-brigade - Naari Shakti. They were Sneh Lata Pratap, Manjula Prasad and Meena Khan. We also had support of volunteers, Ashok Kumar (two of them) and a former DAV teacher, Navtej Singh.
|THE EXECUTIVES: From left-Thakur Ranjit Singh (President), Tarun Bala, Bikal Tahal, Snel Lata Pratap, Manjula Prasad, Sanit Lal, Meena Khan, Purshottam Krishna, Mahendra Singh (Secretary), Chandrika Prasad|
|A MEMORABLE EVENT: Different groups got together to click-on the memories they will cherish for the rest of their life.|
Indeed, those who missed, are kicking themselves, and thanks to photographer, Meenal Pratap, the photos are on Facebook and has been talk of the town. Bigger and greater event is planned for 2019 in home ground in Fiji, which is planned to stretch for 3 days.
|Some of the big-guns: From left-Sant Sharma (Vancouver), Sadasivan Naicker (Suva), Raymond Raj (Kitimat, Canada), Surya Deep Singh (Melbourne), Pundit Sanat Pandey (Brisbane) and Thakur Ranjit Singh (Auckland).|
As our tribute video showed, life is unpredictable - but the show has to go on. And very appropriately, our theme was: Suno, jiyo, muskurao, khush raho-Kal ho na ho. And, as our theme says - listen, live, smile, be happy, as there may be no tomorrow. Sing and dance today - tomorrow another loved one may leave us….
And with this to inspire us, we look forward to the next biennial (once every 2 years) mother of all reunions in Fiji in the weekend of 20 July, 2019.
We again salute the Girmitiya who were ordinary people who did extraordinary things in extraordinary times. And one extra-ordinary thing they did was to have vision to provide us education in schools like DAV –and that gave us a memory to relish. See you in 2019.
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is the President of DAV College, Ba, Fiji Ex-Students Association, Auckland which organised the 2017 reunion. He is a journalist and media commentator and runs his blog site, FIJI PUNDIT.]