Mauritian magician in Bihar to build bridges
Mar 27, 2007 - 7:42:38 AM

Patna, March 27 - A Mauritian magician of Indian origin, who is in Bihar to trace his roots, dreams of 'bringing' the Indian Ocean country to his state and vice versa.

'My dream is to build a mini Mauritius in Bihar and a mini Bihar in Mauritius. I will try for it soon,' said Gurudutt Singh, whose father Sudarshan Singh is a farmer in Mauritius and son Jilesh Singh is a professional magician like him.

'The visit was overdue for decades, I have at last made it,' added Singh, who has plans to build a unique museum in memory of his forefathers in Bihar as well as one in Mauritius.

However, Singh, who is in his mid-50s and speaks Hindi and Bhojpuri, laments the lack of sufficient details needed to discover his desi roots. He only recalls that his great-grandfather's native village is in Saran district, 100 km from here.

'I don't know the name and exact location of the village of my forefathers. All I remember is that they were from a village in Saran district,' he said.

Two days ago Singh offered prayers and rituals on the bank of river Saryu in memory of his forefathers.

'It was a memorable and emotional moment for me because I fulfilled my dream to touch the land of my forefathers. I experienced spiritual happiness because of my blood connections with the land. I will again visit Bihar along with my entire family next year,' said an emotionally charged Singh.

His great-grandfather Bavan Singh and great-grandmother Lakhi Devi had migrated from a village in Saran to Mauritius and worked as labourers in agricultural fields. They then settled down in Mauritius.

'I was told that they were taken by the Britons to Mauritius from a village in Saran in 1855 on a ship called Prince Albert to work as labourers,' Singh said.

Singh can speak 13 languages and has visited 108 countries to perform magic shows, but this is his first visit to Bihar.

During his stay in Patna, Singh will meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Industry Minister Gautam Singh and top government officials. He has also shown keen interest to invest in development projects of the state.

Last year, a few Indian-origin people managed to trace their family roots in Bihar, thanks to the efforts of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs.

A large number of people from Bihar migrated to Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Suriname, South Africa and other countries in the 19th century to serve as indentured labourers on sugarcane and rubber plantations. Many descendants are now eager to locate the families of their forefathers in India.

Last year, the Bihar government launched a special tourism package called 'Root Tourism' aimed at helping people of Bihar origin wanting to visit their native villages.

Mauritius is home to 700,000 PIOs.

The state last month installed a life-size statue in Patna of former Mauritius prime minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who originally hailed from Bihar.

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