Brisbane, GOPIO (Global Organisation of people of Indian Origin)is an international organisation for Indian Diaspora and has chapters in most the countries where people of Indian Origin reside, the aim and objective of this organisation is to represent the people of Indian Origin irrespective of their country of birth, as long as they have ancestral ties back to Mother India. Through the efforts of GOPIO – Girmit memorial monuments have been inaugurated in various
countries were Indian Indentured labourers were taken under the British rule.
Umesh Chandra OAM, founder president of GOPIO Queensland has personally attended many of these inaugurations , some of which include Durban, South Africa
, Mauritius , Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe .Perhaps a greater achievement has been the inauguration of a permanent monument at Kidderpore Ghat in Kolkata the very port from which many Indian left under the indenture system.This monument has now become a place of pilgrimage to the descendants of their heroic ancestors. Umesh Chandra OAM served on the lobbying committee and took part in the historic inauguration in 2011, a proud and cherished moment. Below is an extract from Kolkata newspaper
INDENTURED INDIAN LABOURERS MEMORIAL AND CLOCK TOWER KOLKATA PORT TRUST,
“We are the forgotten children of Mother India. Mauritius, Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana and Fiji celebrate Indian Arrival Day and have memorials for the Indian workers. But in India no one remembers them”
David Sheoraj of Trinidad and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs)
Fiji:14 May, Mauritius: 2 Nov.,Trinidad: 30 May,Guyana: 5 May, Suriname: 5 June, Jamaica: 10 May. These days are all national holidays in the respective countries and are known as the Indian Arrival Day. Indian Arrival Day is celebrated in these countries to remember the day on which the first wave of Indian indentured labourers arrived in the respective countries.
These days are not only celebrated as holidays, but also various cultural events are held by the People of India Origin (PIO). Sadly, India has forgotten its lost children but Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) making all efforts to retrace the great Indian Diaspora.
The Kolkata Memorial, an initiative of GOPIO, at the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) docks is a latest initiative to rememberthe Indian indentured labourers. It is a meaningful significance to the millions of descendants of those who left India as indentured Indian laborers from 1834 through 1920.
GOPIO Queensland has been observing the Girmit Diwas since 2014 in Brisbane, every year on the 14th of May itself.As it is solemn occasion GOPIO Queensland has been observing the day a day of remembrance, a day of tribute – in the same spirit of ANZAC – lest we forget participants respectfully lay wreath sand flowers in the memory of all those who endured the horrific journey and harsh treatment of the rulers.Everyone has always been welcomed to attend, participate and contribute to this memorial service.
The MC for this year was the amazing Pele Ramdhani, with South African background , President Rakesh Sharma welcomed everyone to the event and went through the long list of dignitaries.The acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land was done by Elder Aunty Betty McGradyand her speech was very informative and emotional. After the acknowledgement Umesh Chandra OAM introduced a special song “Bidesia” which was reproduced from one of very old collections. Umesh Chandra OAM Explained to Aunty Betty and the wider community that similar to the stolen generation of Australian First nation people, we too shared a similar story , and like their dream time storytelling we to had our folklore – The specially prepared “Bidesia” covered the complete story
, members of Ekta women’s club did a wonderful rendition of the bidesia , The lead singer was Shobna Bali. During the singing translation of the verses was displayed on the big screen, this had a big impact no one in the audience had a dry eye. The “bidesia” can be viewed on Australian Indian Radios facebook live and YouTube channels.
Keynote speeches were by Mrs Archana Singh,Honorary Counsel for India In Queensland and Mr Hari Raniga honorary Counsel for Fiji In Queensland.The event concluded with all present paying their respectand tribute at the cut out of the Kolkata memorial.Dinner provided by Cornerstone Law Offices was served in the foyer.The feedback has been very good.
GOPIO Queensland officially announces the date for next year’s Girmit Diwas
– as usual the 14th of May at Queensland Multicultural Centre – subject to venue availability but he date is firm and confirmed, any one wishing to contribute in any which way is as usual welcome.