By Ranjita Bunwaree
The Mauritian diverse cultures and cuisines came alive at one single spot within a few hours at M. Marot Centre, in Quatre Bornes. It was on 13 August, last Saturday, on the eve of Independence Day of Pakistan and India.
One could witness a unique event where the diaspora components of the Mauritian society were presented through music, dance and cuisine. This function was graced by the presence of Hon Xavier-Luc Duval, Vice Prime Minister-Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon Mookeshwar Choonee, Minister of Arts and Culture, Deputy High Commissioner Prashant Pise (India) and High Commissioner Muhammad Siddique (Pakistan) and other eminent personalities. Probably it was one rare occasion where also homage was offered to the celebration of Independence Days of two States in 1947 – Pakistan (14 August) and India (15 August) with the recognition of the fact that a large majority of our Diasporas came from the undivided Indian peninsula.
The sound of music and dance was floating with the blending of classical pieces of Mozart played by “String Ensemble” conducted by Gerard Telot, Sega in Mandarin accompanied by slide shows on Mauritius, Bengali Folk Song, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Kassida Songs, Tamil Classical Dance, Telugu Kolletan Dance, Gujarati Folk Dance. The Indo Mauritian Catholic Association also made their rare appearance by presenting their patriotic songs in Kreol and Bhojpuri.
Refreshment delights offered at the function included 13 varieties of different diasporas cuisines. It was interesting to witness that many traditional dishes of our forefathers are still alive in each Diaspora component of the Mauritian society.
This was a unique attempt of SELEX and ODI to unite different ethnic and cultural groups on one platform, probably the first of its kind in Mauritius. The idea of creating Unity in Diversity was born decades ago in 1960 when Chit Dukhira , the founder-chairperson of these two associations helped set up, as secretary, the Long Mountain-based “Central Cultural Circle.”
ODI, under the leadership of Chit Dukhira and his dedicated team, has been relentlessly trying to contribute to national unity by organising regular activities including public conferences in the fields of History, Culture & Literature and demonstrating Mauritian plural society comprising the world’s main diasporas (European, African, Indian and Chinese) living in harmony.
ODI also plans to expand its activities including the launching of an annual News Letter in the near future and wishes to be connected with global diasporas by inter-exchange of views and activities of common interest.
* Published in print edition on 19 August 2011