28 January 2017

DNA and Genealogy

At Christmas my Indian husband took a DNA test with Ancestry.com. He just got the results. They weren't too surprising. It said his DNA was 78% South Asia and 14% Asia East. This is not uncommon for Indians in the northern states, since they are more likely to intermarry with other east asian groups. Many of the indentured laborers sent to Fiji were from Uttar Pradesh (a state in the north), his ancestors included (the ones we have found so far anyway).

What was a little surprising is that his DNA also contained 7% Melanesian and 1% Polynesian. So, one of his ggg-grandparents might have been Fijian, which we had never heard before. But, since at least 2 of his gg-grandparents were born in Fiji, although they have Indian names, it is possible that one was only half Indian. Time to do a little more climbing in the family tree.

18 October 2016

Searchable Records!

The National Archives of Fiji is working on a searchable list of Girmitya. All the names, from all the immigration passes and other records are being transcribed and posted online. These lists can also be downloaded as PDFs for you to look through offline later.

The online list consists of persons name, father's name, ship, and passenger number. With this information you can easily request a copy of the original record.

Records in the series include:
     Immigration Passes from 1879-1916
     Register of Indian Immigrants from 1879-1916
     Plantation Register 1879-1916
     Repatriation Register 1881-1921
     Death Register 1879-1927.

So far names starting with A-M are available to view online, and they continue to work on the rest of the list. The current list can be found at Girmit.org

With India looking to strengthen ties with Fiji, and those in Fiji starting to search for their Indian roots, this is a great resource. I look forward to searching through the records myself and finding family.

25 January 2016

A Fijian Indian Finds His Ancestors

It's always nice to hear stories about people finding their roots. Last week I came across this article about a Fijian Indian who found some of his ancestors and their village in India. It even takes him to Basti district (where some of my husband's family comes from). It seems to have taken him 20 years to get to them, but I'm happy he finally found some family history and relatives.


I am still on the hunt, but hopefully we too can have a happy ending to our search for history.

14 May 2015

Girmit Day in Fiji

Every May 14th in Fiji there are celebrations for the Girmityas. The first ship of Indian indentured laborers arrived in Fiji on May 14, 1879. Today their descendants remember their sacrifice, their dreams, their hardships, and  honor their memory and legacy.
While Fiji still has problems with racism and the communities of native Fijians and Indians don't always get along, the celebration of Girmit Day is also used to help Indians work towards better relations with others.
India High Commissioner Gitesh Sarma said "The celebration today reflects modern Fiji where everybody is part of this country and has an equal chance to make a contribution in the development of the country."
Let's hope this spirit of hope and good will continues.
With Girmit Day there are often several stories in the news about the Girmityas. Here is a small sampling:
Old Girmit: A Journey of New Freedom
Celebrating the Life of Girmitya
Fiji Girmit's Great Legacy
Journey of 80 Years
Legacy of the Koya Clan in Ba

22 December 2014

Finding Ancestors in Uttar Pradesh

The tourism department in Uttar Pradesh India is working on helping people find their roots. They have launched a new section of their site for people of Indian origins to do genealogy. It's free to register with the site, but if you want them to help you find your ancestors, it'll cost US$150 (they'll refund half if they don't find anything).
I personally think it's great that they are specifically reaching out to the descendants of Girmityas to help people find their ancestral homes and villages. I know that it's mostly in relation to tourism for the area, but any genealogy/family history progress is good in my opinion. I hope that their site expands and they include searchable information for others to look through. Definitely a site to keep your eye on for the future.

27 October 2014

Family Tree Writing Conference

India has a genealogy society called Vanshavali Sanrakshan and Samvardhan Sansthan (Family Tree Preservation and Conservation Oganization). The national president of the organization says there are some 3,500 registered family tree writers in India.
Today they are having a one day conference in Jaipur, with about 400 writers from around the country in attendance.
It's very exciting to see more interest in genealogy and writing family trees happening all over the world. 

23 October 2014

Happy Diwali 2014

This time of year is festive in Fiji. On Oct 9th they celebrate their independence from British rule. This year they held their first election in years, returning to a democracy after a coup that overthrew the former government. And there is Diwali, the Festival of Lights. This year the main day for the festival is Oct 23rd.

While this is mainly a religious celebration, there is plenty of room for a more secular interpretation if you aren't Hindu. For Hindus, the festival celebrates the return of Rama with his wife Sita, after years of banishment and Sita being kidnapped. For other religions it has significance too. Mainly it is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness.

The main festival day occurs on a night with a new moon (so it's dark and you can't see it). It is much like New Years for America. There are lights, fireworks, yummy sweets, rangoli decorations, visiting family and friends, and general merriment.

Here is a lovely article from the Fiji Times about the significance of light in the celebration of Diwali in Fiji, and how it can bring us together.

Happy Diwali!