Home Members News Events Videos Gallery Contact Us Sign In
Subscribe to our newsletter
 
About Us

 
 

 


MAURITIUS MARATHI MANDALI FEDERATION

Maharashtra Bhawan, Pandit Sahadeo Square,Moka

Tel: 433 2873, 52542763  Fax: 433 2875

      www.marathi.mu  ,  Email : mmmfed@intnet.mu

 Executive Members 2020 - 2022

Mr. Asant GOVIND CSK - President

Mr. Chavanrao AMBAJEE - Vice President

Mr. Jayram RAWOJEE - Vice President

Mr. Vijay MOOCOOND - Vice President

Mr. Shivajee DOWLUTRAO - General Secretary

Mr. Babooram DEORA - Assistant Secretary

Mr. Rishi (Roshan) DEOJEE - Assistant Secretary

Mr. Preeyesh Rao BABBOO - Treasurer

Mr. Shikanand HEEROO - Assistant Treasurer

Mr. Vismaram BABBEA MSK - PRO

 

Brief on Marathas in Mauritius

 

 

  • The bulk of Indian immigration to Mauritius started in 1834, when Slavery was abolished by the British colonial government to compensate the shortage of labour resulting from the refusal of the African slaves to work in the fields. Since that date, there has been over a few years, several batches of Indian immigrants engaged mainly for agricultural labour in the sugar-cane plantations owned at that time by the white plutocracy. 

  • The majority of the Indian immigrants were recruited from Calcutta and were Hindi-speaking, whereas Tamil and Telegu-speaking Indians sailed from Madras. The Maratha immigrants, who were relatively few, were recruited mainly from the districts of Pune, Rajub, Sattara, Ratnagiri and the Konkan regions.

  • In the course of time, like most of the Indian immigrants, the Marathas also began to acquire land and to build their own house as soon as their contract as indentured labourers terminated.

  • At first, most Marathas who had, in Maharashtra, been accustomed to the sturdy life of mountain climbing and fishing moved to the hilly, rocky parts as well as coastal regions, of Mauritius such as Black River District, Cluny, Le Val and Riche-en Eau.

  • The second generation of Marathas (in fact the first generation of Marathas born in Mauritius) realized the disadvantages of living in remote areas, far from developing  villages and towns, especially for the education and social advancement of their children.

  • Consequently, by the mid of this century, many Marathas migrated to developed villages and towns, so that presently a significant part of the Marathi Community is concentrated in urban areas, mainly in towns such as Vacoas, Curepipe, Quatre Bornes and Beau Bassin.

 2.  Religion & Culture

  • The Marathas of Mauritius, though a minority Community have preserved their cultural heritage from their forefathers from Maharashtra. In fact in regions where Marathas are concentrated, they have founded social organizations (sabhas) and have built mandirs. At present there are more than fifty registered Marathi socio/religious associations, scattered throughout Mauritius. Forty eight of them are federated under the Mauritius Marathi Mandali Federation, which is the only body recognized by the government, as representing the Marathi Community in the social, religious and cultural matters. The Federation receives religious subsidies from the Government which it distributes to the member- associations.

  • As proud and devout Hindus, the Marathas celebrate every year, together with the other linguistic groups of the large Hindu family, Maha Shivratree, Ram Nawmi, Krishna Jayanti, Durga Puja, Raaksha Bandhan and Divali. However, the Marathas in Mauritius demarcate themselves by the celebration of three annual festivals with great pomp and fervour: these are Gudhi Padwa, the Maharashtra and Shivaji Day and the Ganesh Chaturthi, each celebrated on a national public holiday.

  • Moreover the Marathas in Mauritius have perpetuated to the present generation the celebration of three different streams of adoration like a precious heritage:

    - Gondhal (sacrifice offered to goddess Bhawani)
    - Das Avatar (Ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) and
    - Jaagran (Warghya – Moorli).
  • It is a widely recognized fact in India, that Maharashtrians are very fond of theatre. Such a feature is also present among the Marathas of Mauritius. In fact each year the Ministry of Arts and Culture organizes the National Drama Competition in ten different languages. The Marathi linguistic group ranks top as regards number of entries per linguistic group.

  • The passage of life sacraments ie the samskaars such as the panchevi, baresa (birth ceremonies), wedding and the typical Marathi mangal sutra and funeral rites are a few vivid examples of the cultural heritage carefully preserved up to the present generation of Marathas from their Indian ancestors.

  • In culinary the Marathas perpetuated their typical food like bhaakri, pauli, waria and kanowla to cite a few examples.

  • Government recently established the Mauritius Marathi Cultural Centre Trust (along with Trusts for Tamil and Telegu). This funded agency gave a new dimension to the upliftment of Marathi culture in Mauritius. A new breed of young artists is coming to prominence with better costumes, training and skills.

  • The Trust also engages in dispensing free tabla courses and produced a DVD on Maharashtrian Cuisine and palna geet. A DVD on Murti making is under production. The fiestas produced to celebrate our three strategic events are funded by this Trust.

 3.  Economic, Social & Political Involvement

  • Though the Marathas in Mauritius constitute a minority group within the large Hindu family, it has contributed significantly to the economic, social and political development of the country.

  • Moreover the Marathas have been present in the important events which have marked the history of Mauritius, as indicated in the following examples:

  1. The Rama Brothers (descendants of Immigrant Rama Kadam Deshmukh who originated from Deodali Maharashtra), were the first Mauritians of Indian origin, to become owners of Sugar Estates in 1918 at a time when only the white sugar oligarchy owned and controlled sugar estates.

  2. The Marathi community has produced the first Indo-Mauritian doctor namely Dr Edharao Rama in 1919.

  3. Pandit Sahadeo Dazzi Rama was a dynamic Maratha socio-religious personality, defender of the cause of the exploited labourers during the colonial period.

    In 1936, he was one of the founders of the Labour Party. Subsequently under the leadership of late Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, and inspired by Maratha freedom fighters such as Lokmanya Tilak who launched the memorable motto “freedom is my birthright” and Veer Savarkar, he advanced the case of independence from British Rule.

    It is a matter of pride and honour for the Marathi community of Mauritius (though a minority) for their contribution in the historical struggle (both through social and political means) for the independence of Mauritius from British rule, thus replicating their brethren and contemporaries in Maharashtra in their own freedom fight against British rule in India.

  4. In 1967, two Marathas, Messrs Gunnoo Gungaram and Sewa Bappoo stood as candidates under the Independence Party, and were elected. Mr Gangaram was the first Maratha who was appointed Minister (Communications) in the first Government of Independent Mauritius. Hon. Sewa Bappoo was appointed Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries.

 

 

 

4.   Language

  • It is mostly through religious ceremonies, rites and rituals, bhajans, songs and plays that the Marathi language is still present today. Like all Mauritians the Marathas use Creole, French and English to communicate.

  • However, conscious of the importance of the preservation and propagation of the Marathi Language which is vital for the identity and survival of the Marathi community in Mauritius, two associations, member-affiliates of the Federation, the Marathi Sahitya Parishad and the Maratha Mandir are dispensing regular free courses/tuitions in Marathi language in various regions throughout Mauritius, especially during weekends, for students of different age groups.

  • The first World Marathi Conference held in Bombay in 1989, had Honourable Mrs Sheilabai Bappoo, then Mauritian Minister for Women’s Affairs, as Chief Guest.
    It was also a great honour and privilege for the Marathis in Mauritius to host the 2nd World Marathi Conference in April 1991, which was a resounding success.

  • It is pertinent to note that since 1965 all oriental languages, including Marathi are taught in the Primary Schools of Mauritius. At present Marathi language is taught at secondary and tertiary levels. The community now has one PhD in Marathi.

  • As from July 1998, the Government of Mauritius has set up a scheme wherein qualified teachers who give tuition in oriental languages, through registered associations, are being remunerated by the Government.

  • Government also established the Marathi Speaking Union in 2010 (along with speaking unions for Tamil, Telegu and Creole). The Union shall give a new boost to the propagation of Marathi language and literature.

5.      Aspirations of the Marathi community

  • We are happy about our achievement and we express pride in it. We have kept the flame alive. We did not blend with the mainstream. When our ancestors left Maharashtra they did not embark with a missionary mandate to spread the culture. Their primary motive was more survival than adventure. Yet the urge within was strong and overwhelming. They spread the seeds and we now have a rich legacy. The onus is on this generation not just to preserve this heritage but to nourish and make it flourish.

  • We are aware that tremendous efforts are required to advance our mission. Here we need to navigate upstream to preserve the language, culture and religion. Marathi language now competes with other disciplines that are business and career oriented. The challenge is for the people to learn and speak the language on its own merit and for pleasure. Marathi theatre which was in prominence some time back now faces the same challenges of Marathi language.

  • However the priority of priorities is the construction of the Maharashtra Bhawan. This edifice will be the headquarter for the administration of the affairs of the Marathi Community in Mauritius, for the nurturing and promotion of arts, culture, drama, language and literature. It will be the repository of values, traditions and cultural excellence in all its forms.

  • The central piece of Maharashtra Bhawan will be a theatre of 1500 seating capacity of a world class configuration, offering all modern facilities for international artistic and entertainment performances. Emphasis will be on acoustic, air conditioning, lights and sound engineering. Adequate and comfortable spaces will be reserved for artists.

  • The second main facility will be a modulated Conference Room with all modern facilities, including video projections, video conferencing and internet connections. It is expected that the full conference centre will accommodate up to 300 people.

  • The Bhawan will also consist of a substantial and artistically impressive lobby that will lead to the theatre and the conference room. This lobby can also be used as reception area to receive guests and VIP’s and also for cocktails and conference registration.

  • Spaces are planned for classrooms, documentation centre, gift shop, Maharashtrian restaurant and cuisine, meditation corners and basic dormitories for international guests.

  • The Maharashtra Bhawan Project was in incubation stage for two decades for lack of funds and appropriate place. In 2001 a plot of State Land was finally earmarked to the satisfaction of the Community and an Administrative Block of the Bhawan was erected and inaugurated in 2005 and we called it the Phase I of the project.

  • We are now poised to start the Phase II of this mega project which is estimated to exceed the toll of USD2.5 million. With our own meagre funds we plan to kick start the project this year but in faith we are expecting a miracle for its completion.

6.   Expectations of the Marathi Community in Mauritius from the State of Maharashtra

  • In 1991, on the occasion of the Second Marathi World Conference, the then Chief Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar made a donation of 500,000 Indian Rupees to the Mauritius Marathi Mandali Federation for the construction of the Maharashtra Bhawan. After more than two decades the proceeds of the deposit and with a grant of Rs1.0 million from the government of Mauritius plus our own funds the Administrative Block emerged from the grounds.

  • Following the visit of Mrs Dipti Ravi Chaudhari, Mayor of Pune, on the occasion of Maharashtra and Shivaji Day 2002, the twining of the Municipality of Vacoas- Phoenix and the Pune Municipal Corporation was concretized in 2005. However up to now no cultural exchanges took place under this accord.

  • Although we refer to our relationship with Maharashtra as umbilical, we deplore a missing dimension in this relationship with the motherland. We feel that there is room for a more intimate interface. All exchanges with Maharashtra in the past decades have been sporadic and localized, mostly in the domain of tertiary education and commercial tour operators. No meaningful bridge was established for a continued and sustained development of cultural and literary exchanges. We do not have a formal and working relationship with the official bureaucracy.

  • We are not aware if the State of Maharashtra has a policy for its diaspora in a similar vein as the British Council in the Commonwealth. The diaspora in Mauritius (and worldwide) earnestly calls for a Marathi Council or an official Agency with roles like an embassy with full staffing that shall represent the Homeland in Mauritius. This agency shall fulfill the longings of the Marathi Community in Mauritius for a more intimate and loving relationship with the Motherland.

  • This body shall enable, encourage and facilitate the movement of brethren to and from Mauritius on cultural tourism, spiritual pilgrimage or genealogical urgings and PIO settlements. We long to see our local artists perform in the towns and villages of Maharashtra. We yearn for the very skilled artists and professionals from Maharashtra to visit Mauritius regularly and brush shoulders with our own.

  • The easy movement of Marathi people of all walks of life to Maharashtra shall indeed complement and boost the efforts of our various local organizations in the advancement of Marathi language for daily interactions, for pleasure and for literature and general knowledge.

  • We have practiced our various religious rites with basic knowledge. Our priesthood (mostly non Brahminical) did their job in faith and sincerity. There is a dearth of neophytes embarking in the vocation. At the level of the Federation a free purohit course is being dispensed by local resource persons. This effort would be meaningless if on completion of this basic introductory course the participants are not offered the opportunity to graduate to advanced levels abroad with experienced mentors. We would want the State of Maharashtra to sponsor the training of our priesthood on a yearly basis.

  • All the foregoing discussions point to the establishment of a Marathi edifice funded by the State of Maharashtra. Therefore the whole of the Marathi Community in Mauritius pleads in one voice with the State of Maharashtra to fund the Maharashtra Bhawan Phase II project. This is the quiet longing of the Marathi children in the Mauritian diaspora. Let this country be a flagship of the grandeur and magnificence of Maharashtra. Let the Maharashtra Bhawan be an emblem of the spirit of Marathas worldwide.

  • The Central Government operates the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture under the general aegis of the Indian High Commission in Mauritius which has its own magnificent building with lavish Indian décor. We want to see a replication of this for Marathi Culture. The whole Marathi Community in Mauritius expects and longs for such a favour from the Motherland. We feel we legitimately merit this. As a reward and also as token from the Motherland in recognition of her children’s remarkable and laudable preservation of the rich Marathi culture through four generations outside Maharashtra!

  • We feel like blood relatives longing for a share of the heritage. And the involvement of the Maharashtra Government in the realization of the Maharashtra Bhawan Phase II Project will definitely constitute a tremendous boost to us, Marathas of Mauritius, in our daily endeavour to preserve and promote the glorious Marathi lingual, cultural and historical legacy, in our multi-cultural Mauritius.

 

 

Mr Kaleswarao Saccaram, who was elected as Member of the legislative Assembly under the banner of the Labour Party in 1976, served as Minister for Employment and Internal Communications up to 1982.

Honourable Suresh Moorba, first lawyer from the Marathi Community, was appointed Minister of Information (1980-1982). 

From 1983 to 1987 Honourable Babooram Mahadoo served as Minister for Local Government.

In 1982, Honourable Alan Ganoo elected under the banner of the Movement Militant Mauricien, became the first Maratha who was appointed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

From 1992 to 1995, Mr Babooram Mahadoo was the first Maratha who served as Mauritian Ambassador. He served as High Commissioner of Mauritius in UK.

From 1987 to 1991, there have been three Marathas in the Mauritian National Legislative Assembly (constituting of 60 elected members).

From 2000 to 2005 Honourable Alan Ganoo served as Ministry of Public Utilities.

From 1983 to 1995 Honourable Sheilabai Bappoo served in many Ministries especially as Minister of Women’s Rights and Minister of Labour. From 2000 to date she served as Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare and currently as Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare. She has been serving Government as Minister for 19 years. She is the Honorary President of the Mauritius Marathi Mandali Federation.

  • From the above it is clear that, though the Marathi Community is a minority one in Mauritius, it has etched its indelible imprint with bravado in the political arena in Mauritius.

 

 

 
Browse
Home
About Us
News
Events
Videos
Gallery
Blog
Sitemap
Contact Us
Mauritius Marathi Mandali Federation
Maharashtra Bhawan
Royal Rd, Moka,
Mauritius
Tel: (230) 4332873
Mobile: (230) 2542763
Fax: (230) 4332875
Email: mmmf@marathi.mu
Copyright 2011 - Mauritius Marathi Mandali Federation Web Design