Colonial cousin swears by roots

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  • Published 19.11.10

Patna, Nov. 18: For Mauritius President Anerood Jugnauth, visiting Bihar was like walking down memory lane.

“This is my first visit to Bihar but it reminds me of my roots and cultural bonding,” said Jugnauth, while addressing an august gathering at Bihar Chamber of Commerce (BCC) hall on Thursday.

The Mauritian President, who is on a daylong visit to Bihar addressed traders, businessman and chamber members. He opted to speak in Hindi and Bhojpuri, the language spoken by his ancestors and also a large populace in Mauritius.

The President said: “Mauritius not only has diplomatic and friendly relations with India but we also have a blood relation with her.”

He added: “Many from Bihar had moved to Mauritius in the 19th century. Though it is my first visit to Bihar, the land of Lord Buddha, I had many times desired to visit the state but could not do it due to paucity of time.” The Bihar Chamber of Commerce, had invited Mauritian dignitaries in which large number of BCC members and businessmen attended the conference.

Welcoming the guests, BCC president P.K. Agarwal urged the visiting dignitaries to do the needful so that people from Mauritius may visit Bihar and experience the warmth of the state.

Responding to the warm gratitude extended by BCC members, the visiting president said: “Whenever I come to India, I feel like visiting my second home.”

Jugnauth said: “Long back our ancestors from Bihar moved to Mauritius and despite facing many hurdles and difficulties we have tried to maintain the rich culture which our ancestors had taken along with them.”

Indo-Mauritians represent a majority, comprising 68 per cent of the population. The first of these Indians arrived to the immigration depot in 1834 as labourers to work in sugarcane fields.

“When former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Mauritius she said that the country looks like mini-India as there is very little cultural distinction between the two countries. People of Mauritius still call India as Bharat Mata as a mark of respect to the land of their ancestors,” said the Mauritian President.

He added: “People of Mauritius, despite many hurdles have preserved the culture and religious identity of their ancestors. There is pond in Mauritius, which was earlier known by a French name. However, when our ancestors moved to Mauritius they along with them took water from river Ganga and the holy water was poured in the pond. Later, after Mauritius got independence, the pond was renamed Ganga Talab.”

The visiting dignitaries also praised the role of Mahatma Gandhi in the development of Mauritius. Mahatma Gandhi, on his visit to Mauritius, contemplated opening schools, hospitals in the country.

The visiting dignitaries were also presented a memento of Rajgir Sanchi Stupa.