Villagers to gift soil to Mauritius president


Patna, Jan 5 (IANS) Upbeat residents of Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purayag's ancestral village in Bihar have decided to gift him a little soil and a bushel of freshly harvested paddy when he visits them Sunday.

Rajkeswur Purayag, whose ancestors migrated from Bihar to the island nation of Mauritius in the 19th century, will visit Wajidpur viillage in Punpun block in Patna district, about 20 km from here.

He is in India to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas diaspora meet.

"Villagers, including members of Rajkeswur Purayag's extended family, have decided to gift him a chunk of the soil from his ancestral village that he could carry back home," Khurshid Alam, a district official, said Saturday.

He said villagers have also decided to gift him 'dhan ki bali' or paddy crop. Besides, some villagers have collected money to gift him a momento of silver.

Rajkeswur Purayag's distant relative Mahesh Mahto, who lives in the village, told IANS over telephone that villagers will gift 'soil of the village' to the 'Mati Ke Lal'(Son of the soil).

"It is like a festival in the village, a day ahead of his visit," Mahesh, who works as a mason, a poor man unlike his relative Rajkeswur Purayag, said.

Another district official Sushil Kumar said that the mood is upbeat and people are eagerly waiting to welcome the visiting president.

District police have also tightened security.

Rajkeswur Purayag's ancestors are said to have migrated as Girmitiya labourers to Trinidad and Tobago, then a British colony in the Caribbean islands, in the 19th century.

In January last year, Kamla Persad Bissessar, the first woman prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, visited her ancestral village Bhelupur in Itarhi in Bihar's Buxar district. Her great-grandfather Ram Lakhan Mishra reportedly left Bhelupur to cross the seas in 1889.

Nearly five years ago, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam had visited his ancestral village in the state's Bhojpur district.

A large number of people from Bihar had migrated to Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Suriname, South Africa and other places in the 19th century to serve as indentured labourers on sugarcane and rubber plantations.

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