Saturday, December 6, 2014

Shri Ram-a-Thon: A charity walk to become a trend-setter.

  Shri Ram-a-Thon: A charity walk to become a trend-setter.

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust (SRMCT), led by its Managing Trustee Pravin Kumar, launched an innovative idea about charity walk with a difference. The difference was that it was not merely to raise funds, but to amplify well-being of community, importance of keeping fit, networking, service to community and enhancing diversity and multiculturalism. The most important message was to religious organisations to extend their radar of focus from spiritual to the needs and aspirations of and service to the community. Thus the concept of Shri Ram-a –thon took root that will now be emulated by people in the Hindu Diaspora

Shri Ram Mandir - the Community Centre and Temple project under construction at 11 Brick Street, Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand

At the crack of morning on the last day of spring 2014, some committed and enthusiastic community workers sprung out to create history. They congregated before 7 am on 30 November, 2014 at partly-completed Shri Ram Mandir at 11 Brick Street, Henderson to catch Ritchies bus to Papatoetoe for a marathon charity walk of 35 km.

When they arrived at Ram Krishna Mandir at 25 Onslow Avenue at Papatoetoe after some an half-hour’s drive, a large number of walkers and volunteers, with the Mandir Trustee and executive Vijendra Prasad, were already at work to welcome the delegation and serve them healthy and delicious breakfast. After initial prayers, blessings and formalities and donation presentations, final preparations were in place for the start of the Marathon Charity Walk. National list MP, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Mrs Bakshi had arrived early at the Mandir to address the walkers, cheer them along, wish them well and even join them at the starter’s line.

On your marks, get set..START: The commencement of Shri Ram-a-thon at  at Ram Krishna Mandir at Onslow Avenue, Papatoetoe. In the start-up line in front, second from left is Vijay Varma of Humm FM, Pravin Kumar, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Vijendra Prasad of Ram Krishna Mandir and Kashmin Kaur, among others.

First Phase12.5km-3 hours
The Marathon Charity walk commenced from Onslow Avenue just before 9am through Clendon Avenue, Old Papatoetoe, Portage Road, Buckland Road, Robertson Rd, Walmsley Rd, Mahunga Drive, Miro Road, through old Mangere Bridge to Onehunga Mall and through to Princess Rd break. The first “pilgrimage” and stop was the Shiridi Sai Temple. After a long walk, a delegation with drums and cymbals has gathered at the temple, to welcome them, including officials and Trustees of the Mandir and community leader Harnam Singh Golian. This was a long 12.5 km and just over 3hour’s walk. After prayers and visit to the Mandir, the devotees were treated to delicious refreshments and welcome address by a Trustee of the Mandir, Bhaskara Reddy and NZ First’s List M, Mahesh Bindra, who thanked the walkers for their courage, pledged his support and urged them along.

The charity walkers taking a breather outside Shri Shirdi Saibaba Mandir at Onehunga, the first stop

Second Phase: 6.9km, 1.5 hours
The next phase of the walk, though shorter, was a challenge as the walkers took the uphill track on to Hill St, through to Manukau Rd from Royal Oak and further 3km on Green Lane West Road brought them to the second “pilgrimage”, Bhartiya Mandir at 252 Balmoral Road. This was after some 7km and one an half hours of walk. On hand to welcome the devotees with Dholak and music was the reception committee headed by the Mandir executive and a generous donor, Roshan Nauharia. After visit to the Mandir, prayers and Aarti, devotees were treated to another round of tasty and healthy refreshments. On hand to cheer the walkers and encourage them was former Radio Tarana talk-back and current affairs announcer, and now National List MP Paramjeet Parmar. She said she was encouraged by the resolve of walkers, and wished them well.

The second stop at Bhartiya Mandir at Balmoral. Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust's  Trustee, Gyanendra Prasad addressing the audience, while Roshan Nauhuria and Paramjeet Parmar  look, on before addressing the audience.

Third Phase: 6.9km, 1.5 hours
The third phase commenced with the walk through the construction site on Balmoral Road, through Sandringham, Stoddart, Mairo, New Windsor, Tiverton, Wolverton, Clark and Ward Street to the third pit stop, Food For Less Supermarket, where food and refreshments were in abundance for the walkers. This was after some 6.8km and one and half hours walk. The Director of Food For Less, and a generous donor and community conscious Romit Prakash and Labour MP for Te Atatu, Phil Twyford, with other community workers, formed the reception committee to welcome the team. After another healthy refreshment break, Te Atau Labour MP Phil Twyford and Whau Local Board member Ami Chand addressed the walkers, encouraged and urged them create an-all-time record for the longest walkathon in Auckland. To walk his talk, Phil Twyford joined in the last phase of the walk.

The third stop at Food For Less Supermarket. Dignitaries are being welcomed. From left, Managing Trustee, Pravin Kumar, Trustee Master Shiu Charan, Labour MP for Te Atatu, Phil Twyford, Whau Local Board Member, Ami Chand and Food For Less Director,  Romit Prakash (being garlanded). On the right, in blue with yellow garland is support team leader, Umas Chand, waiting attentively with a garland for next garlanding.

Fourth Phase: 9.3 km, 2 Hrs- Final destination-Shri Ram Mandir
The final and fourth phase began with blessing from the Gods with showers through New Lynn and Great North Road for some 9 km walk. On the way in Glendene, there was a pit stop and refreshments at Shiu Prasad and Sons shop, organised by Chandrika Prasad and family. After a short break the walk commenced on great North Road, through Swanson Rd and stopped at the entrance of the destination: Brick Street.

The refreshment break at Kelston at Shiu Prasad and Sons, courtesy of Chandrika Prasad, Tag 98 in centre.

The reception team, with drums, cymbals and the dance squad joined in and the whole delegation of walkers led the procession to Shri Ram Mandir and Community Centre. A reception was held for the walkers and certificates were presented to them and generous donor. Present to cheer the devotees were Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Paramjeet Parmar, National Party List MP Alfred Ngaro and Auckland City Councillor Linda Cooper, joined by Phil Twyford. The evening ended with networking and a very sumptuous and delicious vegetarian meal cooked under the guidance of Shri Ram Mandir Chef, Hardip Singh.

Walk through Henderson town, West Auckland.

The finish of the walk was a painfully pleasant moment, as it was a long walk, with aching muscles, but a history has been created, and an example had been set. In addition, as the intent of this event was, it was to pass a message to people the importance of keeping fit and looking after health. Thanks to the medical team led by Dr Ajay Kumar, who kept a close watch on the walkers throughout the walk, and travelled with the team to provide any assistance and guidance, supported by very able nurses. Other support vehicles and the logistic team performed admirably. There was a support bus all the way to provide relief for tired walkers and two other support vehicles with constant watch, supply of water, food, plaster for blisters and glucose tablets, among others.

The final walk at Brick Street, Henderson, leading to Shri Ram Mandir. In the lead is Apna TV anchorman Richard who had accompanied the walkers whole day starting 35 km away in Papatoetoe.

Another encouraging aspect was the tangible and visible support from media. Humm 106.2 FM’s Vijay Varma, joined in the walk from the start to end, and also provided publicity on Humm. In addition, the help and support of Apna TV was very commendable, with their cameraman and anchor-man Richard filmed and recorded the whole even for the whole day, and their staff joining in the charity walk. It is encouraging to see Indian Radio stations working together for the good of community.

Richard (centre) Apna TV anchorman, interviewing the Managing Trustee, Pravin Kumar (right). Looking on is Vijendra Prasad from Ram Krishna Mandir, on extreme left.

The chief organiser and Managing Trustee of Shri Ram Mandir, Pravin Kumar was very happy with the outcome of the charity walk. “The teamwork, awareness, community-spirit and partnership built on the way is priceless. Visit to three other temple sites at Ram Krishna Mandir in Papatoetoe, Shirdi Sai Temple at Onehunga and Bhartiya Mandir at Balmoral would forge a very beneficial like-mindedness with our temple and community centre. We wish to pass the message to the community that temples, apart from a place of worship need to branch out into service and well-being of the wider community,“ Kumar said.

The first question people tend to ask after a charity walk is: how much was collected? Pravin Kumar said as had been advised from the outset, the priority of this charity walk was NOT fundraising. While that was one of the aims, it was one on low priority. The multi-objectives of this walk were:

·        To engage with the wider community, including children, youths, elders, women and people from all walks to life – enhancing diversity, teamwork, networking and multiculturalism.

·        To create awareness of well-being, healthy living, walking, exercising and keeping fit.

·        To help raise funds for the Community Centre and temple project for West Auckland.

Presentation at the end of Charity Walk. From left, Pravin Kumar, Managing Trustee of Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust, Kanwaljit Singh Baksh, List National MP, Phil Twyford, Labour Member of Parliament for Te Atatu, , Alfred Ngaro, National List MP,  Paramjeet Parmar, National List MPand Auckland Councillor, Linda Cooper.

“We are pleased that we are able to pass the wider message to the community for its well-being through the temple project,” Kumar said. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi reiterated that this was a historical event. “Such a long walk had never been undertaken before, and the organisers have proved that whatever the size of challenge is, the human determination to overcome that has always won. It has now led the way, the path, the determination and route for others to follow and say that nothing is impossible,” Bakshi said in the closing remarks.

The Managing Trustee, Pravin Kumar added that the multi-pronged objectives behind the project had been met. “We are very pleased with the initial response and enthusiasm temples spread in different corners of Auckland. They have been brought together by the resolve and determination of the team of walkers to meet the challenge. And we hope to make this into an annual pilgrimage,” Kumar said.

So will this concept grow and take root among community workers to work for the wellbeing of all. May the blessing of Ram reach all those who participated or helped in any manner.

Blowing own trumpet, your truly, author of this article and blogger at FIJI PUNDIT, the walker tag number 007, Thakur Ranjit Singh, receiving Certificate of Appreciation from Auckland Councillor, Lind Cooper. Note the 'Cowboy" hat and Ram Mandir flag on the hat. Looking on are Bakshi and Twyford.


[Thakur Ranjit Singh is volunteer media and communications advisor of the Community Centre and Temple project. He runs his blog sites, FIJI PUNDIT and KIWI PUNDIT. ]

Friday, November 28, 2014

SHRI RAM-A-THON: A Unique Charity walk for the community

SHRI RAM-A-THON: A Unique Charity walk for the community

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Waitakere Community Centre and Temple project, organised by SHRI RAM MANDIR CHARITABLE TRUST (SRMCT)  is hosting a Marathon Charity walk with multiple objectives, uniqueness and enlightenment. YOU ARE INVITED TO BE A PART OF THIS COMMUNITY EVENT

Auckland is going to witness the spring of a new phenomenon on the last day of spring on Sunday 30th November, 2014 at 8 am, commencing at Ram Krishna Mandir, Papatoetoe.  

The dream: An artist's impression of the completed Waitakere Community Centre and the temple project, for which this Charity marathon walk is organised

Sri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust (SRMCT) has ventured on a project of erecting Waitakere Community Centre and a temple, named Shri Ram (Hindu deity) Mandir at 11 Brick Street, Henderson. The project has achieved the major portion of building structure, but the finishing and completion requires further work and funding. In an effort and new innovation of achieving multi-objectives, the Trust is organising a walkathon with a difference and uniqueness.

Firstly, since this walk-a-thon relates to Ram Mandir, it is called Shri (equivalent to salutation “Mr”) Ram-A-Thon. Hence the name, Shri Ram-a-thon, has been adapted to suit the occasion. This is the first such adaptation of name.


Secondly, this event is unique, because its priority does not lie in raising funds only. As indicated earlier, this event has multiple objectives, trying to enhance the wellbeing of community. The objectives are:

·        To engage with the wider community, including children, youths, elders, women and people from all walks to life – enhancing diversity and multiculturalism.
·        To create awareness of well-being, healthy living, walking and exercising.
·        To help raise funds for The Community Centre and temple project for West Auckland.

Finally, the uniqueness of this event relates to its marathon total distance of 35 Km and time of 8 hours stretching from South Auckland, through to former Auckland City area and ending in West Auckland or Waitakere City. While people will can join and leave at any of the stops, there is a group of die-hard supporters, urged by media sponsors on Humm FM and Apna 990 and TV, who aim to walk the 35 km marathon. 


While this is a project undertaken by Indians in general and Hindus in particular, the final outcome of Waitakere Community Centre will aim to be the hub of general diverse community activities in Henderson. The Trust hopes to inculcate better ethics, teaching through religious scriptures, have a place for betterment of youth, ladies and senior citizens, among others and also become a centre to enhance well-being of community through healthy habits and better, longer living. 

The broad outline, and route of Shri Ram-A-Thon is as follows:

·        8am start from Ram Krishn Mandir 25 Onslow Avenue, Papatoetoe

·        First Stop : Shirdi Sai Mandir, 12 Princess Street, Onehunga
Distance to cover is 12 KM and estimated time is 3 hours.

·        2nd Stop will be : Bhartiya Mandir, 252 Balmoral Road, Sandringham
Distance to cover is 6.9KM and estimated time is 1.30 minutes.

3rd Stop: Food for Less New Lynn
Distance to cover is 6.8 KM Estimated Time is 1.30 minutes.

·        Final Destination : Shri Ram Mandir 11 Brick Street Henderson
Distance to Cover is 9.3KM and estimated time is 2 hours.

·        Expected number of participants: Approximately 50 at the start and estimated 200 towards finishing.
·        Expected total distance is 35 km and total estimated time is 8 hours.

The Project in progress to date: it needs your help


The community event will finish at the site of Waitakere Community Centre and temple at 11 Brick Street with grand reception of walkers at the site, followed by presentation, declaration of funds raised, followed by musical entertainment and dinner.

In this festive season and in the spirit of celebration, wider Auckland community is invited to join in this healthy event and also help in raising funds for a beneficial outcome. People on the route are urged to join in or come to support the event and cheer on the walkers.

COME AND JOIN US, CHEER US OR LEND YOUR SUPPORT TO THIS COMMUNITY EVENT AND PROJECT

SHRI RAM-A THON- SUNDAY 30 NOVEMBER, 2014 FROM PAPATOETOE TO  - BE PART OF THIS MARATHON CHARITY WALK

The Community Centre and temple needs your support to come to reality from a dreamAdd caption

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fiji's Failed Military Mutiny: The day Frank Bainimarama was supposed to die - a dark history of modern Fiji

A Dark History of Modern Fiji:When the failed military mutiny changed Fiji’s fate

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Like my last article on burning of Suva, this is also a reprinted version of a dark history of modern Fiji -the day Bainimarama was planned to be assasinated

Second November 2000 was the day when Frank Bainimarama was supposed to have died, and Fiji taken over by ethno-nationalists through a military mutiny instigated by some Chiefs and greedy individuals. Thank God it did not eventuate.

Can you for a moment imagine what Fiji would be like now, 16 years on, had the devils, supported by some chiefs, succeeded in assassinating Frank Bainimarama on that fateful day? What would have been the fate of Indo-Fijians? Another Girmit or slavery, or massacre, something like Luanda or Syria?

Thank God for the 2 November, 2000, which gave back a stronger Bainimarama and a new pleasant history to Fiji. We are so thankful to the failed mutiny on this fateful day when victory, light and life respectively defeated loss, darkness and death.

Indeed, 2nd of November should be declared local Diwali for Fiji – when life won over death, and that dash through a cassava patch saved the life of an army commander who changed the fate of Fiji.

The mirage of people on different sides, but they were the birds of same feather: Tarakinikini and Speight. Tarakinikini was also implicated in the mutiny and was saved because he had absconded to USA and was not extradited to stand trial. Speight is serving his time in jail. Fiji is so thankful for the failed coup and the failed mutiny.

Thursday 2 November sixteen years ago in 2000 started as an uneventful day, a normal clear day in Suva, nothing untoward. I was at Vatuwaqa Cemetery at around 1pm to attend a friend’s funeral from Carpenter Shipping. I had planned to travel to Ba later that afternoon to attend the funeral my cousin, Jai Karan Singh (Prem) who has suddenly passed away the previous morning at Rarawai.

As we were completing viewing, after 1pm, we heard what sounded like cracking of gunfire. It was echoing from Nabua Military barracks which is some 2-3km away from Vatuwaqa cemetery. We immediately sensed something was wrong, and news filtered through that something unpleasant was happening at RFMF Barracks. After the funeral, I quickly rushed home in Raiwai, and shot –off to Ba via Queens Road with my family to attend the funeral. Later we heard in the news that there was mayhem at Nabua Barracks where attempts were made to assassinate Commodore Frank Bainimarama. He was able to escape with help of some soldiers through cassava fields.

This was the second mutiny at a military camp. On 7 July 2000, rebel soldiers supporting George Speight overran the Sukunaivalu Barracks in Labasa, the largest town on the northern island of Vanua Levu. Besides seizing the barracks, these soldiers harassed ordinary citizens of Labasa, kidnapping bus commuters, ransacking homes, and seizing crops, and bullying, assaulting and harassing mostly Indo Fijians. The police was powerless and humiliated, and yours truly made satire of the police force to a "badhia bail"-a castrated bullock. I coined the caption of a cartoon which read, where one farmer in Labasa is telling another farmer, pointing to a bull: “My castrated bullock has more balls than the police force.” The police was really impotent under the then Commissioner Isikia Savua, who was having a jaunt in Vanuatu when anarchy was taking place in Labasa. [Read full four part account of Savua Enquiry at FIJI PUNDIT (www.fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz)] 

Commodore Frank Bainimarama(now Fiji's Prime Minister) with his officers, when he was leading the Army. After attempts on his life by his own people, he had been very cautious of whom to trust. Hence, he removed all thorns and disloyal  soldiers from the ranks and had loyal people who could be trusted.

Reports later emerged that the situation at Nabua Barracks on this fateful day was bloody and unheard of where Fijians were prepared to shoot their fellow soldiers in cold blood, while the milk of human kindness in some rebels stopped them from killing in cold blood. Fijian army officers were executed in cold blood by the rebel soldiers from Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW, which was equivalent to elite force of SAS) during this rebel uprising, with one soldier shot at point blank range while he was asleep.
Reports in local newspapers gave graphic details of how renegade Special Forces soldiers killed three loyal officers during the failed military mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva on this fateful day of 2 November, 2000. One was shot while seated at his computer. His blood was cleaned from the keyboard, according to the Fiji Sun.

One rebel from the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Unit refused to execute two officers at the height of the gun battle. Major Niko Bukarau, who escaped execution, told Fiji's Daily Post: "I should be in the mortuary if everything went as planned." While the CRW rebels had taken over the Nabua Barracks, it was perhaps their bad luck, as little did they realize that the most powerful and feared unit of RFMF, the Third Infantry Regiment was at Sigatoka Sand dunes, undertaking military exercises. As I passed Sigatoka on my way to Ba, I passed these soldiers waiting just below Matanipusi Hills, some 100km away from Suva, in Dee Cee Buses, as if readying themselves to pounce on the enemy. Somehow, I had a hunch that Fiji still had hope.

And the powerful Third Regiment was headed by a Bainimarama loyalist and career soldier, Colonel Viliame Seruvakula, who joined the Army in the early 1980s. He opposed the 2000 coup. And he stood out as Fiji’s saviour on that fateful day. They gallantly marched into Nabua camp, mounted a brief offensive, and led the all-powerful Third Regiment in a counter-offensive to retake the barracks from the rebels and maintain normalcy and security. They succeeded.
Sitiveni Rabuka-the original coup-maker. He was also implicated in the mutiny, and as a result lost his opportunity of a diplomatic posting.
Following the mutiny, Seruvakula made some controversial statements in the media. He alleged that he had been offered F$250,000 to support George Speight's attempted coup in May, and that former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka (who led two coups in 1987) had incited the mutiny and attempted to overthrow the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
It later emerged that this mutiny was led by Captain Shane Stevens. It left some casualties and fatalities, and we can say there was some collateral damage.  A total of 42 soldiers from the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit were subsequently convicted of involvement in the mutiny.

Bainimarama also accused Rabuka of having "politicized" the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) The name of Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini has also been mentioned as the person who wanted to depose Bainimarama.

Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, Qaranivalu (right) from Naitasiri, who was convicted for inciting and supporting the mutiny.  He is seen here with his wife, who is sister of another soldier who has been cleansed from RFMF, ex Landforce Commander Ratu Jone Baleldrokadroka
Stevens later testified that Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, the Qaranivalu, a senior chief of Naitasiri Province and a Senator and former Cabinet Minister, had visited the barracks during the mutiny to offer moral and practical support, which included supplying the mutineers with cellphones. Later, Takiveikata was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the mutiny.

That was a flashback to events 16 years ago. Can you for a moment imagine what Fiji would be like now, 14 years on, had the devils, supported by some chiefs, succeeded in assassinating Bainimarama on that fateful day? What would have been the fate of Indo-Fijians? Another Girmit or slavery, or massacre, something like Luanda or Syria? What would have the so-called leaders, masquerading as Chiefs done to Fiji, after they had looted NBF and other institutions of Fiji under Rabuka regime?

Can you appreciate and perhaps now understand Bainimarama for taking the actions he took? How would you feel if your own people, in military, who were there to protect the leader, had become your killers? How about Chiefs? Instead of being mentors and respectable advisers, they abused their position for greed of power?

The events that unfolded subsequent to this attempt on his life is reflected in the tough stance Bainimarama took. He had warned Qarase to inculcate better governance, bereft of nationalism and racism, which Qarase ignored at his peril. He purged military and removed all the thorns and opposition, and strengthened it with loyal officers who believed in multiracialism, good governance and loyalty. The thieves…oops, I mean Chiefs, some of them abused their positions and power, and politicized the august body of GCC for personal and political gains. The biggest disappointment was Naitasiri's powerful and respected Qaranivalu, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who was implicated and sentenced. As a result the sham of Great Council of Chiefs had to go.

Fiji's Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama-thank God the mutiny failed 16 years ago - we have a stronger person leading the nation. We cannot imagine what Fiji would have been with those ethno-nationalists
With the election of Fiji’s First government as the now democratically elected government of Fiji and recognition by Australia, New Zealand and USA to be followed by the whole world, Fiji has come a long way since that fateful day on 2 November, 2000. Yes, this is the significant and historic day when Fiji’s current Prime Minister, Commodore Bainimarama played hide and seek with death in a cassava patch in Nabua. And like Diwali which heralds victory of life over death, life won on that crucial day, which we now realize made him into an ironman for the rascals and a friend of the weak.

Thank God for the 2 November, 2000, which gave back a stronger Bainimarama and a new pleasant history to Fiji. We are so thankful to the failed mutiny on this fateful day when victory, light and life respectively defeated loss, darkness and death.

Indeed, second of November should be declared local Diwali for Fiji – every year.

[About the author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a media commentator and runs blog site, FIJI PUNDIT, that tells what others fail to tell. He is a former publisher of Fiji's Daily Post newspaper, and is a media and communications scholar, based in Auckland, New Zealand. This article was originally written two years ago.]

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fiji Elections: We need home-grown solution as Western media still jaundiced to Fiji

Fiji Elections: We need home-grown solution as Western media still jaundiced to Fiji
Thakur Ranjit Singh

As Fiji approaches the historical 2014 election on 17 September, 2014, one thing is evidently clear: there has been no indigenous, i-Taukei Fijian leader in Fiji’s history, who could ever win the hearts of the migrant Indo-Fijian community in Fiji, as much as Bainimarama has done. Despite all the venom of western media and his opponents, Vorege Bainimarama has been the most visionary leader that a multi-racial and multi-ethnic Fiji has seen. Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, Ratu Sir Kamiseses Mara, Sitiveni Rabuka, Mahendra Chaudhry and Laisenia Qarase have been left behind in the scrapheap of history, as Bainimarama looks for a home grown solution in a multi-racial fledgling democracy, plagued with ethno-nationalism and divisive politics.

He may not be perfect-but he is the best Fiji has seen so far. And in the process, expect some collateral damage, as any history-in-making produces.

FRANK BAINIMARAMA-the most popular ever Indigenous Fijian leader to the migrant Indo-Fijian community. The most visionary I-Taukei leader ever that Fiji has seen for a multi-racial country which is struggling with its democracy.
Every man and his dog, with their Western concept of failed democracy in Fiji had painted Frank Bainimarama as a villain and a selfish, self-centred man. The latest one is Nick Naidu, who represents an almost defunct organisation, the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji in Auckland.

Naidu’s claims on TV 3 interview on 15 September 2014 substantiates the reason why Frank Bainimarama is sceptical and suspicious of a free press in general and Western concept of press freedom in developing Fiji, in particular.
Naidu claims that Bainimarama is a person who only thinks of himself and nobody else. If Naidu and TV 3 had bothered to read that morning’s NZ Herald’’s article by its ethnic reporter, Lincoln Tan, they may think twice about airing such blinkered and jaundiced interview.

According to Tan, Nadi (Fiji) taxi driver Vinod Kumar said he "cannot wait" to have his say on who will form the next Fijian government.
The 55-year-old grandfather, whose son Shanil lives and works in Auckland, is "90 per cent sure" he will be voting for Frank Bainimarama and his Fiji First Party when the polls open on Wednesday.

"The West just don't understand, they think just because we had a military coup that makes Frank a bad person," Mr Kumar said.
"But life for us ordinary folks has improved so much under him. The roads no longer have potholes, crime is down and more children are going to school because schooling is now free."

He said small things, such as free school buses for students, go a long way because most in Fiji were "generally quite poor".
Mr Kumar said many Fijians were excited at the prospect of voting and election rallies were attracting crowds of thousands.

FRANK BAINIMARAMA-  a man for all people, seen here when he visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. Lord Krishna in Bhagavat Gita said "when there is atrocity, and good and saintly are mistreated by demons, then I take a form of human and come to take away your pains and give justice" Your truly thinks, Bainimarama is one such form, who is seen as a savour of Indo-Fijians in Fiji.
That shows the diametrically inconsistent White mainstream media in New Zealand which is still somewhat jaundiced and unsure on Fiji issues. My journalism studies at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in 2009 and 2010 revealed in my research papers that some of NZ media, who hardly employ ethnic reporters, were very opposed to happenings in Fiji just because Fiji had kicked away an unsuitable concept of Western Democracy, has kicked out some NZ reporters and did not at all miss the step-brotherly treatment given by NZ and Australia. Fiji marched along oblivion of Ostrich syndrome and snub by these neighbours. Fiji got other friends and ignored these two countries which now appear to be mending the bridges they burnt.

TV 3 failed to ask and Naidu failed to volunteer the information that democracy has become a dirty word in Fiji, especially among the Indo-Fijians who were starkly mistreated by previous ethno-nationalist and blatantly racist governments, masquerading as a democracy.  NZ and Australia, as supposedly civilised First World neighbours failed to keep a tab on the wrongdoings of Qarase regime which virtually had rendered Indo-Fijians to a third-class status. It was only the blessings of 2006 takeover of Qarase regime that gave back Fiji some hope.

If today I could call myself a Fijian and enjoy dual citizenship of NZ and Fiji, and still have that dignity as a Fiji citizen, it is because of the same Frank Bainimarama that the Western World takes all opportunity to project as some villain, because he rejected western imported failed system against a home-grown solution. What Fiji needed was an understanding of the world and a local solution to its fundamental problems. Fiji cannot be blamed for befriending China, Russia, Cuba and Korea when its neighbours, founded on bible and Christianity never showed much love for their neighbour.

FRANK BAINIMARAMA visited Auckland on 9 August, 2014, and huge crowd flocked to see him. He was mobbed by people, as if he was a Bollywood star. But all the White New Zealand mainstream media saw and reported on was a handful of protesters. NZ media has always been seen as too white, and too prejudiced to Fiji. With changing demography and population make-up of New Zealand, its media still does not reflect the colour of the nation in its newsrooms.
So many good things have taken place in Fiji, and consequently the credibility, authenticity and mandate of Coalition for Democracy comes into question for not knowing their Fiji. The leaders of other parties’ visited Auckland, nobody heard or saw. When Bainimarama visited Auckland on 9 August, 2014 at Vodafone Event Centre the place was overcrowded with people and Frank Bainimarama was mobbed like a Bollywood star. The blinkered Mainstream media in Auckland were blind to some 2,000 supporters but only saw a handful of protesters.

So many people know what perhaps Nick Naidu and TV 3 need to know about this popular Fijian leader. Frank Bainimarama rescued Fiji from chasm of racism and divisive politics, camouflaged as democracy. Fiji needs a home-grown solution, no more of imported failed western concepts. The elections in 2014 is a step in that direction. And when history is in making, as was USA’s 200 years ago, we are bound to have some collateral damage.



[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a post graduate scholar in honours in Communication Studies from Auckland University of Technology. From a system which could give him a relevant job, he has started his blog sites, FIJI PUNDIT (www.fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz) and KIWI PUNDIT (www.kiwipundit.blogspot.co.nz) and publishes what the other media does not tell] 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ganesh Utsav at Ram Mandir in Auckland marks His birthday

Ganesh Utsav at Ram Mandir in Auckland marks His birthday

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust introduces Indo-Fijian Hindus to Ganesh Chaturthi, and celebration of birth of Lord Ganesh. All are invited to the festivities at Ram Mandir in Henderson on Saturday and Sunday 6th and 7th September, 2014.

Ganesh is widely worshiped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel
For Indo-Fijian Hindus, celebration of birthdays of deities come naturally, especially the elaborate ways of over a week celebration of Ram and Krishn. However, birthday of Lord Ganesh, which is marked during Ganesh Chaturthi has not been celebrated as elaborately as birth of Ram and Krishn. This may be because Ganesh Chaturthi is mostly widely celebrated in  Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Kerala and Chhattisgarh. In Fiji, the majority of Girmitiyas came from Indo- Gangetic plains, from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas, hence it did not get that much prominence in Fiji. But things are changing with a globalised world and all are now getting an insight into birthday of Ganesh.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated on the birthday (rebirth) of Lord Ganesh, the son of Shiv and Parvati. It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. It is the day when Ganesh was born. Ganesh is widely worshiped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. The festival, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi ("festival of Ganesh") is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapad, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September.

Baby Ganesh
During the festivity, there are traditions and rituals that people perform during the Ganesh Chaturthi Hindu festival. People begin preparing months in advance by making check lists, selecting eco-friendly idols, reading up yummy recipes and thinking of innovating decoration ideas to celebrate the festival on a grand scale. Hindus also follow the rituals in Bringing Home the Ganesh Idol, many of whom choose to perform the Ganesh Staphna (Installation of the Idol) by themselves including performing the Ganesh Visarjan (Immersion)

For the first time for Hindus in Henderson, Auckland, Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust (SRMCT) is organizing Ganesh Utsav at its (partly completed) Ram Mandir complex at 11 Brick Street, Henderson, Auckland. For the convenience of people, arrangements are made for a Samohik (combined) Pooja of 2 days.

This will be held on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 September, 2014. The programme begins on Saturday 6 at 7pm with Bhajans, Sthapna at 8pm, followed by cultural items at 8.45, rounding off with mahaprashad (dinner) at 9.30 pm.

Ram Mandir and Community Centre, as it will look after completion.
On Sunday 7th September, pooja is from 9-11am, with Sampuram Yagn at 11am, prasad and mahaprashad at 12pm and Visarjan at 1pm. This will be through a bus trip for devotees to take Ganesh murti for visarjan at sea. Devotees need to register for the bus trip.

For the first time, SRMCT is organizing this Samohik Pooja of multiple families, sitting in rows of 10, performing pooja collectively. For a contribution of $201, each family gets a reserved numbered pooja space, a 5 inch Ganesh Moorti, all pooja samagri for 2 days, singhasan and pooja vedi for families to take home.

Singhasan, Ganesh Murti and Pooja Vedi will belong to the devotees after Pooja

Each day, devotees will have to bring 21 laddoos, flowers, prashad, dubh grass and individual or combination of 108 items, comprising of almonds, cashew nuts, sultanas, mishri (candy), flowers or dubh grass.
Pradhan Acharya is Pundit Nand Lal Shastri and his assistant is Pundit Vishal Joshi. Booking is necessary and can be through Umesh (mobile 022 681 1763) or any Trustee.

Devotee families are urged to be part of this historic occasion where we all get together for a collective celebration and prayers. Do not be disappointed, register quickly as we have only hundred numbered and reserves spaces. For further information visit SRMCT’s website at www.shrirammandir.org.nz or contact the Executive Trustee Pravin Kumar at pravin_lotus@hotmail.com.

E-mail: thakurji@xtra.co


[About the author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is blogger at KIWI PUNDIT and FIJI PUNDIT, is a media commentator and Volunteer Media Liaison Officer for Ram Mandir Charitable Trust]