The Girmit Day national celebrations began with a parade and colourful float procession through mainstreet Suva.
The program featured exhibition booths of Fiji’s Girmitiya history, ultural and traditional art.
Prime Minister Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka said it is critical for us to develop a collective memory for Fiji so that more knowledge is available about the Girmitiya and the changes they contributed to a modern Fiji.
“When they came ashore, Fiji’s future slowly began to take shape. The country began a complex journey leading to ethnic diversity and multi-culturalism.
“The hard-won achievements of the relatives who, over generations, succeeded the Girmitiya were to have a profound and positive impact,” Prime Minister Rabuka said.
The Prime Minister said healing, rebuilding, and the restoration of Fiji have been central themes throughout the festivities.
“The Girmitiya commemoration is linked to this. What we have witnessed is an appreciation by their descendants that the Girmit saga is now better understood by wider society. That in itself is a building block for unity. But there are many more building blocks to put in place before Fiji is complete as a nation.
“The Methodist Service yesterday laid part of the foundation for creating another history of Fiji grounded in peace and reconciliation. The country had never before witnessed a ceremony such as this,” Prime Minister Rabuka said.
The Republic of India’s Honourable Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh commended Prime Minister Rabuka’s commitment to declaring Girmit Day as a national holiday in Fiji.
“I hope efforts like the Girmit Day Celebrations will ensure that the rich history, heritage of Girmitiyas and their descendants and importantly, the hard lessons learnt along the way will be passed on to the future generations.
“It is heartening to see that Hindi, already recognized as one of the three official languages of Fiji has also now been reinstated as a Parliamentary language in Fiji,” Hon Singh said.
He also reaffirmed India’s commitment to further strengthen relations with Fiji at all levels.
“Our close and multifaceted bilateral relations with Fiji built on mutual respect, cooperation and strong people to people ties,” Minister Singh said.
Cultural groups were also awarded for their contributions to raising awareness about Girmitiya history.
Faith Based Organisations also came together for the first time to commemorate the national holiday and they expressed their gratitude to to the People’s Coalition Government for the opportunity to contribute towards building peace, unity and prosperity of our nation.