Friday, October 30, 2009

Mauritius man finds root in Saran - Bihar

PATNA: Nearly one-and-a-half year after the Bihar government identified Bhojpur district's Harigaon as the village the forefathers of Mauritius

Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam hailed from, another Mauritian national has traced, much to his delight, his great grandmother's roots to a village in the state's Saran district.

Rey Joseph, 54, spent a lot of moolahs on his three visits to Bihar to locate his ancestral village. The Mauritius telecom department officer was finally able to locate his ancestral village at Ishwapur, 20 km from Chhapra, the district HQ town of Saran, last week.

More than half of the population of Mauritius is of Indian origin, mostly Biharis. PM Ramgoolam's grandfather Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was among the hundreds of labourers forcibly taken to Mauritius by the Britishers to serve as indentured labourers, also known as `girmitiya mazdoor', in sugarcane and rubber plantations in 1860s. Seewoosagur, who later led Mauritius to independence from Britain, is revered by Mauritians as the father of nation.

Joseph visited Bihar in 1987 and 1998, but returned disappointed. He didn't give up though, and procured documents pertaining to his great grandmother's migration from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Library and Archives, Mauritius.

"The date of my great grandmother Dulari's arrival in Mauritius was October 13, 1865. It was after obtaining the documents that I decided to visit Bihar again," he said.

Joseph's "joy knew no bounds" when he "finally" reached Ashooyia (now Ishwapur) located on the Chhapra-Mashrakh road. "I met the villagers and was impressed to see the development work in the area," he said, adding he would open an orphanage at his great grandmother's village.

Last year, one Gaiutra Bahadur from Guyana had traced her great grandmother's ancestral village to Saran district. She had migrated to New York with her family in 1981.

"I set out in search of the village not knowing if the place still existed," she said. Not only did she find it, she also came across the patriarch of a Dubey clan who said she belongs to his family.

"The journey has been quite soul-satisfying," Bahadur said and added land revenue records dating back to 1900 confirmed the Dubeys are her kin.
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