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!

12 September 2014

Hindu Pilgrimage Records Online

FamilySearch just added 256,816 more images of Hindu Pilgrimage records to it's online image collection. They aren't indexed, and are in Hindi (and possibly other languages, I haven't looked too deeply into it yet), so not usable by me yet. But, my husband might be able to translate some for me.
 
 
These records contain lots of family information for those who made these pilgrimages. The information can include names of ancestors, ancestral villages, dates of births marriages and deaths, and info about the family they marry into. They don't mention women much though. But, some of the records currently online date back to 1194! How cool is that!
 
I guess I have more Hindi learning to do (I can currently only read half the alphabet).

19 August 2014

Genealogy Conference

Last weekend I was able to attend a genealogy conference put on by the Washington State Genealogical Society and hosted by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society. It was my first time at such an event. Normal I probably wouldn't have gone. While I know they try to keep the cost down, it still does cost money. And they are usually far enough away from me that travel expenses make it difficult. But, this one was within driving distance of my house (only 40 minutes away). So, I convinced my husband that it was worth the $100 for two days and a banquet. And I convinced my mom to babysit all 4 of my kids for 7 hours each day.
 
The conference was good. I really enjoyed myself and learned a few things. Being fairly introverted, I didn't meet many new people, but the few I did talk with were very friendly and nice. I did notice that I was one of maybe 5 people under the age of 40 there. Not that there is anything wrong with that, just an observation. And I got to met and hear from D. Joshua Taylor, who is apparently a 'famous genealogist' and is on tv (which is probably why I've never heard of him, I don't have tv). He too is under 40 (yay, now there were 6 of us there).
 
I went to classes about national and state archives, US vital records, writing about family history, publishing your family history, internet research, citing sources, Evernote (and other non-genealogy software), and German immigrant research. Time constraints being what they are, and having to choose between different classes, I was unable to go to classes on using various evidences, DNA genealogy, census records, using timelines, digital scrapbooking (not that I need a class in that), masons and other fraternal organizations, and getting more from ancestry.com. The only thing I think was missing from the conference was more information about searching internationally. But I understand that such classes would be beyond the scope of the conference, and too difficult to include.
 
Would I do it again? Probably. In fact, they are having one next year in the same place.
 
http://www.wsgs2014conference.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Stillaguamish_Logo.pnghttp://www.wsgs2014conference.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/New-WSGS-LOGO-300x265.jpg

16 August 2014

FamilySearch Photo Duplication

A couple months ago I found out about a service that would have been helpful to know about earlier. I'm not sure why the 'help' people at FamilySearch and the Family History Library didn't just recommend this. They apparently don't know about it. Someone ought to tell them. Anyway...
FamilySearch has a FREE photo duplication service. If you have something specific you want a (digital) copy of, there is a simple form you can fill out and they will e-mail you an image of your document.
Now, you have to be specific, they won't do research for you, but isn't it nice to know they can copy stuff for you. Like, for instance, an emigration pass you know the exact name and record number for on a microfilm they can't/won't lend out.