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Maha Shivratree 2012

To all Devotees of Lord Shiva, Wish you a Pious Maha Shivratree!

Firstly a resume of blog posts concerning my trips to Ganga Talao:

2006: No Pilgrimage but instead my first Char Pahar Ki Puja. At 6am on way back home, bought the daily fresh bread, got ready and then went to college. I had to submit my computing project I think.

12 Feb 2007: The HSC results were out and on way to Ganga Talao, I purchased the afternoon edition of ‘Le Mauricien’ at 9eme Newsstand seller to read that I am ranked after laureates in Economics Side. I was in high elation and was receiving lots of calls of congratulations during the first miles of the trip. A Mini Kanwar was used at that time.

1 March 2008: Constructed a Kanwar and the first year at University of Mauritius. Was feeling sleepy in the Lecture Classes as the night was spent mostly in giving a helping hand to get the kanwar ready on time. Blog Post: https://asheshr.com/2008/03/01/i-am-going-on-pilgrimage-for-maha-shivratri-2008/

22 Feb 2009: Blog Post: https://asheshr.com/2009/02/22/maha-shivratree-2009/ Opportunity to Dance with the Kanwar!

1 Feb 2010: Blog Post: https://asheshr.com/2010/02/12/wishing-you-a-pious-maha-shivratree-2010/ Pilgrimage without Kanwar 😦 but use of my new iPhone 3GS GPS 🙂

2 March 2011: Blog Post: https://asheshr.com/2011/03/04/on-the-tv-this-week/ I was featured during the reportage of MBC at Maheshwarnath Mandir Triolet on Maha Shivratree. (UoM Days over, Trainee Associate Software Eng. at Accenture IT). This was a horrible year given that I was not able to do the pilgrimage, being committed to the new world of work.

18 Feb 2012: This year was a special one since the trip was not on my normal route. Well, to get started I had to manage for a work leave for Friday 17, which I did not get. I had to assist a very important web re-design meeting at 4pm till 6pm on Friday! 😦 Then on Sat. in order to avoid the trauma of not being able to do my yearly pilgrimage, I quickly planned out something to make it happen, and it happened!

My Flickr Photo Set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/curiousengine/sets/72157629398642985/

Its 5.30pm and at 6pm Char Pahar ki Puja will start. This year the 1st Pahar from Maheshwarnath Mandir Triolet will be broadcasted live on MBC TV. And I have to get ready quickly to be there on time!!!

Update on Wed. 22 Feb 2012:

Yesterday, could not assist fully the char pahars given had to “webwork” yesterday as from 8.30am. Was present at only the first Pahar. Notable presence of Hon. Anil Baichoo, Minister D. Ritoo and the President of MSDTF. It was raining heavily and the mandir was jam-packed with devotees.

I greatly appreciated the ‘bhajan mandali’ comprising of Northern Artists, who were all Youngsters.
Bhajan Mandali

So, this year my trip started on Sat. 18 Feb, at around 4pm, I travelled by bus to the south of the island to join members of a Sabha. It was a nice group consisting of around 20 youngsters. The walk was 3hours and the major challenge was : steep climbing at road contours. Maybe that’s why I saw only 1 Kanwar at that time. Furthermore, it was a great first experience to be playing the Dhol and other instruments which the sabha members had. My cousin Vashish guided me throughout the walk, hmm despite their pace was a bit too quick for me 😉

This year I noticed that more Pligrim Groups (with Kanwar) had their members form a band and play the instruments. I believe there is some sort of funding behind so that most could afford purchase the percussions.
bhakht gan

Reached Ganga Talao at around 11.00pm.  The route was around 18 km and the map is: http://g.co/maps/u8mh2. It was heavenly to do prayers at night at Ganga Talao. This was my best ever moment at Grand Bassin till yet. Took the Bonne-Terre/Curepipe Bus at around 2.30am and got a lift from St. Paul (Vacoas) Till Port Louis. I reached at around 5am at the Kovil where most of the Triolet Kanwarthis have their stay. Yeps, this year could not make it at the Hindu House.

From 7.30am, we took off the way back to our village. I was excited to carry the kanwar of the Shivmay Group which I joined.
Maha Shivratree 2012

p louis

First pause at ‘Kailason Kovil’ Terre Rouge, second at ‘Gro Latet’, Arsenal and final at Solitude Kovil. These were the major points to re-energize or re-plenish. No need to describe the various items being offered to pilgrims – fruits, yoghurt, gato bhajia, Alouda, juice, Mineral water, Piksidou etc. Personally, I was happy to join back people of the North as on my way to G.Bassin, I was acquainted to new friends of the South.
Kailason
Maha Shivratree 2012

At the Total Filling Station, there you could see the Ministers Faugoo and Ritoo in their big cars BMWs, Jaguar walking and meeting the tired pilgrims. They would be in the procession with band and headed by S. Dulthumun. At around 12.30pm, the final walk from Solitude to 9th Mile Triolet.

Solitude Filling

Update 6 March 2012

Added photos to the blog post. My favourite Kanwar photo:

On the other hand, there was one group having done a Kanwar which let many controversies arise


Indentured Labourers in Mauritius: another form of Slavery?

Today, 2 November 2010, The Republic of Mauritius is commemorating the 176 anniversary of the Arrival of Indentured Labourers in Mauritius. In this context, a series of Activities are being organised by The Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund and the Ministry of Arts and Culture, just like last year. However, one particular event is the staging of a full length play in Hindi on Manilal Doctor in Mauritius; visit: www.manilaldoctor.info for more info and updates.

This blog post of one focuses on the System of Indentured labourers in Mauritius (l’engagisme). I think since in primary school days that I got to hear that our Ancestors came by boat from Calcutta India to Mauritius, in order to find Gold abundantly available in an island. During my college days, got the opportunity to work with the MGI folk museum for their website: www.mgifolkmuseum.mu.

But the question I ask myself is: Did the practice of Slavery left no trace in the way the new labour system, Indian Indentureship was practiced in Mauritius between 1835 and 1912???

I think Historians would be able to shed more clarification on it, but a bit of my literature review reveals the following:


The introduction of Indian contractual workers by individual planters during the British period started between 1820 and early 1830s. Arrival registers of the Indian Immigration Archives (MGI) testify that labourers from the Indian Peninsula disembarked in Mauritius as from 1842 and originated from Colombo, Cochin, Pondicherry, Madras and Calcutta. These experimental importations of local planters were an evident means of overcoming the acute shortage of labour arising in the colony.

The Importance of Slave Labour

The slave trade which flourished in the 18th century, was attacked by reformers in Britain and in 1787, a society for its abolition was instituted in England. In the face of mounting opposition against slavery and the conditions of slaves on plantations, William Pitt, the British Prime Minister, tabled a motion in Parliament in 1792 to gradually abolish slavery. In 1807, the shipping of slaves to British colonies was forbidden and in 1808, the slave trade was prohibited. When in 1810, the British took over the island, slave trade became illegal. In 1834, British abolished slavery. It is phased out on the island under a transition period known as “apprenticeship”.

However, in Mauritius and elsewhere, the sugar plantation economy since its inception had depended, for its success and profitability, on plentiful, cheap, coercible and disciplined labour force. Slave labour had, for centuries, been the backbone of the plantation colonies of the Caribbean.

In 1835, Indentured labour system introduced. In subsequent decades hundreds of thousands of workers arrive from India. Mauritius was the first British Colony to embark on the ‘Great Experiment’ of importing an indentured labour workforce from the sub continent. Since the proclamation of the abolition of slavery in 1833, there was the urgent need to replace the local labourers liberated from slavery by an indentured workforce. This workforce later on became a majority population group. 453,063 Indentured labourers were brought in Mauritius under the indenture Agreement.

The status of being a Slave and the Code Noir

Code Noir

Three characteristics define an enslaved person:

· the slave has the status of a ‘good’ or ‘bien meuble’

a slave can be bought, sold, hired or pawned

· the owner has absolute power over him or her

the owner controls not only the labour of the slave but his person and life after work. Slave women for example were sexually exploited.

· the denial of family ties

a slave can not only be separated from his or her family but has been removed from his or her homeland

a slave is an ‘exclu’ in a slave society

(Source: Vijaya Teelock, Mauritian History, from its beginning to modern times, 2001)

A slave had no existence in law at that time as he/she was a ‘bien meuble’, (‘res mobiles’, a ‘good’) and the legal status of the slave decided by all laws that applied to goods or moveable property. Far from proposing his workforce as a merchandise, the slave himself is an object. The employer buys the merchandise which belongs to him. The owner has the right to sell, to kill the slave. There is choice of becoming slaves, you are black and automatically you become a slave, maybe why there was no Code des Esclaves but instead Code Noir (Lettres Patentes)

Ce code rédigé au temps de Colbert restera en vigueur jusqu’en 1848, date de l’abolition définitive de l’esclavage par la France.

Quelques extraits du Code Noir :

“Déclarons les esclaves être meubles… Voulons que les hommes libres qui auront eu des enfants avec des esclaves soient condamnés et les dits esclaves confisqués au profit de l’hôpital… Leur défendons de tenir le marché des esclaves le dimanche… Défendons aux curés de marier des esclaves sans le consentement de leurs maîtres… Les enfants qui naîtront seront esclaves… Les esclaves non baptisés seront enterrés de nuit dans un champ voisin… Les esclaves abandonnés seront adjugés à l’hôpital… Déclarons les esclaves ne pouvoir avoir rien qui ne soit à leur maître… Ne pourront les esclaves être partie civile, tant en demandant qu’en défendant… Voulons que l’esclave qui aura frappé son maître au visage soit puni même de mort… L’esclave pourra être abandonné à celui à qui il aura fait du tort… L esclave fugitif aura les oreilles coupées, s’il récidive, il aura le jarret tranché et la troisième fois il sera puni de mort… Enjoignons de gouverner les esclaves comme bons pères de famille…

Car tel est notre bon plaisir. Signé : Louis.

No Human Dignity

A Slave did not have any human dignity. It is just a ‘Washing machine’. Slaves had no right of marrying. Their children were the property of the slave-owner not the parents. Slaves only inherited misery, not given money, only their owners were compensated. Do slave objects have a soul? Did the slaves loved their counterparts as they loved themselves?

 

Till then enjoy today’s public holiday. However do not ignore that your ancestors have toiled hard for what Mauritius today is. The Key and Star of the Indian Ocean is the product of the sweat and blood by the labourers coming from the great peninsula. You can read more on  Wikipedia – the History of Mauritius, today, if you have some spare time to ponder and analyse  critically on Mauritian History.


New Mandir in Triolet

Finally the Rukmini Dwarka Dwesh Mandir is opening in Mauritius’ largest village Triolet! The Grand Opening Ceremony is scheduled as from 23 Nov till 29 Nov. There will be Bhagwad Katha everyday from 18:00 to 20:00 and Abhishek on 29 Nov.

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This is the last time that we are having our usual ceremony in the small mandir. The latter was jam-packed today and believe me, the devotional level was at the highest. All devotees are happy for the Grand New Opening of Dwarka Dwesh Mandir…The first mandir in the world being located in Los Angeles and now the second one being opened in Mauritius, paradise island.

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What surprised me is that there will be a “Raj Bhog” consisting of 1008 dishes! Wow 😀 Need to have a strong stomach for this… In the pic below is our new location for Mahaprasad, in the Open Air…

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After Maheswarnath Mandir (The largest Shivalaye in Mauritius and the biggest one in Mauritius), here we are, Triolet is blessed with another one.

Here is the link for the location of the Mandir (Ahh, Google has not bought satellite images yet, hence the temple won’t be visible on the land)

Jai Shree Krishna!