Mrs Seeta Ramyead: A multi-faceted versatile grassroots social worker

In memoriam

By Sarita Boodhoo

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the sad demise of Shrimati Seeta Ramyead, also known as Satyavatee Ramyead on 12th September 2019 last, aged 89. She was a dedicated social worker and a multi-faceted persona who made her mark as a talented creative writer and dramatist, stage and film actress as well as a leading social activist.

Seeta Ramyead was a self-made woman. Born on 3rd August 1930 to Shri Jiyen and Sundaree Dhunputh of Bonne Terre, Vacoas, Seeta did not have a regular schooling as in those days most Indo-Mauritian girls were confined to the home. However, her parents belonging to the avant-garde Arya Samaj movement which militated for the education of girls by opening several “Kanya Vidyalayas” (girls’ schools) were liberal in their attitude and engaged a teacher to coach her at home. Seeta showed keen interest in her studies, even after her marriage at the age of 19 to Madhu Mohun Ramyead of Souillac, and went on to obtain the then highest diploma in Hindi awarded in Mauritius – the Prathama. In those days, Shri Jai Narain Roy, Pandit Srinivas Jugdutt, her brother-in-law Shri Luxmi Prasad Ramyead, and others used to go from house to house round the island encouraging and motivating parents to send their children to school and to learn Hindi. Seeta Ramyead’s in-laws were not strangers to that movement.

When Prof Ram Prakash, an Indian erudite and polyglot, was invited by Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in his capacity of Liaison Officer for Education (1951-1956) to train teachers in Oriental Languages at the Teachers’ Training College (T.T.C) in Beau Bassin, this opened the doors wide open to dozens of village people to a full-fledged career as Hindi teachers. Thus it was that Seeta, armed with her Prathama Certificate from the Hindi Pracharini Sabha, Long Mountain, got admitted to the T.T.C in 1964. However, due to family obligations, she could not proceed to India for a degree course in Hindi like her colleagues Dr O. Gangoo, Pahlad Ramsurrun, Satyadev Peerthum, Deepak Nobin – this was an eternal regret. But being a very talented and creative artist, she gave herself from her young age to setting up street plays and one-act plays in Hindi covering a multitude of social, patriotic and cultural themes based especially on Munshi Premchand’s short stories. Seeta Ramyead herself has written more than 100 plays which she has produced and directed. She choreographed several dance ballets.

In those early days when the television had not yet appeared in our homes (as from 1965) she assisted her elder brother-in-law Dr Luxmi Parsad Ramyead in setting up radio plays from Souillac. When he left for London as Adviser to students at the High Commission of Mauritius it was a great challenge to Seeta Ramyead to continue the cultural and theatrical work left pending. This is where her grassroots work became deeply embedded in Mauritian society. She prepared and presented countless programmes by children at the baithka level in those wonderful ‘Varshik Outsav’. After her training at T.T.C she was appointed as Hindi teacher at the Ministry of Education and served for 25 years till her retirement. She set up a theatrical group and moved from village to village staging plays not only in Hindi and Bhojpuri but also in Creole. She wrote her first book ‘Pathar Ke Lor’ a Bhojpuri short story based on ‘La Roche ki Pleure’ which earned her much fame.

Seeta Ramyead has received several meritorious awards, namely the President’s Meritorious Service Medal and Aryan Bhooshan conferred by the Arya Samaj. The work ‘Pathar Ke Lor’ has been translated by Bhisma Dev Seebaluck in English as ‘The Legend of the Wailing Rock’ and published in his series of ‘A New Approach to English Literature’. She was also awarded the Bhojpuri Gaurav Sammaan by the Bhojpuri Speaking Union for her immense contribution to Bhojpuri language, culture and heritage at the Second Geet Gawai Inscription Festival (by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) in December 2018. She was a life member of Mauritius Arya Sabha, and a member of the Hindi Speaking Union, Hindi Lekhak Sangh, Hindi Pracharini Sabha and Manager of Vacoas Sanskritik Sabha at Aryan Vedic School Vacoas. She was Vice-President of Mauritius Alliance of Women.

Mauritius Times offers to the bereaved family its deepest condolences.

* Published in print edition on 11 October 2019

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