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SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Feb. 11) - The National Farmers Union plans a nationwide celebration this year to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Fiji.

The first Indians sailed into Fiji waters on the ship Leonidas on May 14, 1879, as indentured laborers to work on European-owned plantations.  The ship carried 373 males and 149 females.

NFU general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry said the union’s executive board would meet this Saturday to plan the event.

Mr Chaudhry said although plans were still on the drawing board, activities would focus on the history and contribution of Indians, in particular farmers, to the development of Fiji.

Events would include cultural entertainment, exhibitions, literary contributions and musical recitals.

"The aim is to pay homage to our pioneering forefathers and to project an awareness and understanding of the suffering, indignities and aspirations of a migrant community struggling to establish itself in an adopted land," Mr Chaudhry said.

"The younger generation tends to take things for granted today. They must not forget the hardships their forefathers endured to bequeath a better life to their offspring in Fiji, against all odds. This is particularly so in the field of education, because the colonial government initially made no provisions for the education of Indian children," he said.

February 11, 2004



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