The ‘Girmitiyas’ have kept the culture of India alive in their hearts in foreign lands: Lekhi

Indian indentured laborers who have been taken to work on plantations in Suriname, Fiji and elsewhere have kept their home country’s culture ‘alive in their hearts’ despite exploitation, the minister for health said on Tuesday. Union, Meenakashi Lekhi.

The Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture said this during an interaction with reporters at a meeting she hosted here ahead of Diwali. The event also brought together Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, ambassadors from many countries, high-ranking diplomats and other officials from various missions.

Various cultural performances were presented to the guests at the event held on the lush green lawns of Palika Services Officer Institute in Chanakyapuri. The event started with Ramayana Chaupai who narrated the story of Lord Rama in prose form. It was followed by a ‘Ramleela’ which was much appreciated by all diplomats and briefed them on the meaning and history behind Diwali – the festival of lights, the culture ministry said.

The ‘Ramleela’ was followed by a beautiful rendition of ‘Sundar Subhumi’ (Batohiya) written by Babu Raghubir Narayan in Bhojpuri in 1911. It depicted India as heaven on earth and portrayed what indentured Indians felt for their homeland from foreign soil. He also extols the virtues of Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lord Krishna in his lyrics.

During the performance of this song “Girmitiya”, a few members of the diplomatic community, originally from Suriname, Fiji and Trinidad and Tobago – where the contract workers were taken – joined the artist on stage on invitation, said a representative from Lekhi’s office, adding that Diwali is also celebrated in these countries due to its cultural roots.

An English translation of the song’s Bhojpuri lyrics was also shared with the envoys and diplomats present on the occasion.

Speaking to reporters later, Lekhi said, “Diwali is a festival of light and it is about conquering darkness.

“We presented our cultural philosophy on stage, along with this song about ‘Girmitiyas’ which is about indentured laborers and their lives. It was a dark time for them, but they kept the faith, they kept the culture of their homeland alive in their hearts despite the exploitation”.

”It only goes to show that if one has faith in Lord Ram, Goddess Sita or Lord Hanuman, one will not deviate from the straight path.” The ‘Diwali Utsav’ event, was organized to give insight of the grandeur of Diwali to ambassadors and other guests from foreign countries.

He saw representatives of missions from the UK, Australia, Finland, Romania, Singapore and neighboring India, Bhutan and Nepal, among others, the representative of his office said.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Helen D. Jessen