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UNI News
  • Thursday, 19 May 2022
143rd Girmit Day in Fiji: Commemorative stamps, first day cover released by PM Bainimarama

143rd Girmit Day in Fiji: Commemorative stamps, first day cover released by PM Bainimarama

Suva/New Delhi, May 14 (UNI) Marking 143 years since the day the first batch of indentured labourers from colonial India landed on the shores of Fiji, where today Indian-origin people comprise 38% of the population, a set of commemorative stamps and a first day cover were released at an event in Suva. Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama jointly released the commemorative stamps and the first day cover with Indian High Commissioner P.S. Karthigeyan, at a grand function held at the Suva Civic Centre to mark the 143rd Girmit Day in Fiji. The event was held as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), celebrating 75 years of India's Independence. The High Commission of India in Suva in association with Post Fiji Limited brought out the set of commemorative postage stamps and first day cover. The Indian High Commission in a tweet said: “143 Years of Shared Heritage. Our partnership only getting stronger! Thank Hon. @FijiPM for releasing a special set of postage stamps brought out by @HCI_Suva jointly with @FijiPost to commemorate #GirmitDay2022 as part of the ongoing @AmritMahotsav. Happy Girmit Day.” During the colonial period, the first Girmits or indentured labourers from India were brought to Fiji onboard the Ship 'Leonidas' on May 14, 1879. For another 37 years, till the system was abolished, more than 60,000 indentured labourers were brought from India to work in the sugarcane plantations, a statement from the Indian High Commission said. Also present at the function held at the Suva Civic Centre today were Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Premila Kumar, Minister for Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate, Assistant Ministers, Senior Government Officers, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Business Leaders, prominent members of the Indian Diaspora and a large number of the general public. In his remarks on the occasion, the Fijian Prime Minister recounted the enormous hardship faced by the indentured labourers who continued to struggle against racial discrimination even after the end of colonial period in Fiji and underlined the need to make sure that the country does not revert back to such a state again. In this regard, he emphasized on the importance of better understanding of the history, heritage and contribution of the Girmitiyas and their descendants to Fiji among the wider sections of the society. An exhibition of the commemorative stamps was also displayed at the event along with the archive material on Girmit History and India tourism. UNI RN