UNVEILING OF THE SIVANANDA PEACE PILLAR AND INDENTURED LABOUR MONUMENT

On Sunday the 16rd of November 2014 at the The Sri Mariamman Temple, Mount Edgecombe, Durban AT 10h30

The Sivananda Peace Pillar together an Indentured Labourer Sculpture featuring an Indiam Man and women in the sugar cane field together with plaques in honour of the 1860 Indentured labourers would be installed. The Sivananda Peace Pillar, made from granite, 3,5metres high, weighing four tons, is inscribed with prayers from the world’s major religions. It will be a mark the Temple since its 156th year of existence.

The Peace pillar would be a source of inspiration to the devotees and families that make use of the temple facilities.  The Pillar would also be dedicated to our forefathers who struggled hard during the past 154years. In South Africa, eighteen Peace Pillars have already been unveiled in Empangeni, Phoenix, Ladysmith, Pietermaritzburg, Greytown and Tongaat. Similar pillars will also be unveiled in Cape Town and Mpumalanga, while  more will make their way to Mauritius and Chennai, India, respectively.

The Peace Pillar initiative was borne from a commitment made by Ramlutchman to “his beloved Swamiji”, the late Sri Swami Sahajananda, where he undertook to install eight “Sivananda Peace Pillar’s” across South Africa but has gone on to surpass the number promised. The Peace Pillars are erected in honour of Sri Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society Worldwide and his disciple, Sri Swami Sahajananda.

The peace project has the support of world leaders – including the World President of the Divine Life Society, His Holiness, Sri Swami Vimalananda; President Jacob Zuma; former President of RSA, the late Dr. Nelson Mandela, the late Dr M.V. Shembe (Leader of the Nazareth Baptist Church), His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini Ka-Bhekuzulu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, the Government of India, Chennai Municipal Corporation of Tamil Nadu and Mauritius have given their unconditional support and commitment towards the Peace Pillar Project and the awards.

The Sri Mariamman Temple is one of the oldest and most famous Hindu temples in South Africa. Its history dates back to the latter half of 1800 AD, when indentured labour workers from various parts of India arrived at Port Natal (Durban) from Madras (Chennai) and Calcutta (Kolkata) to work in the sugarcane farms. Very soon the Indian labourers started building shrines and temples. The appearance of ‘puthu,’ a mound similar to that of an anthill, at the site marked the start of this temple. The ‘puthu’ signified the auspicious location of the temple and work on its construction was taken up. The temple was developed in a phased manner and with the passing of time, a number of festivals made it more popular. The ‘puthu,’ meanwhile, is growing. Devotees, including businessmen, visiting dignitaries, and the community have nurtured the temple through donations. Among the most benevolent sponsor is Tongaat Hulett Group, which donated 2.5 hectare land. Ricky Naidoo donated a spectacular water feature. The temple has come to be known as the Centre for the World Peace Prayer Day. The Temple Society has quietly been effecting great change, bringing together the people of the diverse communities that surround this important place of worship. The design of the temple is quiet similar to the Indian style and conforms to the Hindu ‘agama’ guidelines. The consecration of Navagraham, the august presence of peepal tree and worship to Lord Ganapathi are the salient features of this temple. Around the bark are yellow threads tied by young girls, who pray for suitable life partners. This practice has been in vogue for many decades, says Savithri, a house wife, whose forefathers hailed from Tirupati.

Visit: www.sivanandapeacepillars.com or www.acindustrial.org.za

REMARKS BY THE MEC FOR CO-OPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS NOMUSA DUBE NCUBE AT THE UNVEILING OF THE SIVANANDA PEACE PILLAR AND THE 1860 HERITAGE MONUMENT FOR THE COMMEMORATION OF 154 YEARS OF THE ARRIVAL OF INDIAN COMMUNITY IN SOUTH AFRICA MOUNT EDGECOMBE.

16 NOVEMBER 2014

Programme Director,

Her Excellency The High Commisioner of India , Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam,

Her Deputy High Commisioner , Mr T.A Changsan,

President of the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman, Chairman of the Shri Mariammen Temple, Mr Seelan Achary,

The Consul General of India, Mr Raghunathan,

Mayors and Councillors,

Members of the Senior Management of Government Departments and other Departmental staff, business people, and journalists, ladies and gentlemen, I greet you all.

Programme Director, many may ask why we are gathered here today. The reason is to unveil the Sivananda Peace Pillar and the 1860 Heritage Monument in commemoration of 154 years of Indian History in the country by acknowledging the role and the appreciation of the presence of our fellow Indian brothers and sisters in this country, as well as to strengthen the existing bond between us.

Today is one of those occasions in the life of KwaZulu-Natal which places this province and the country firmly on the road to lasting peace. Peace becomes a non-negotiable in the life of a country when its people realise that we all have the capacity to contribute to the building of a better country. Peace becomes a necessity, when we all realise that without peace, our country cannot grow, without peace our people cannot prosper.

Here in Mount Edgecombe, we are blessed to be witnessing one of the chosen places in our country to host the eighteenth Sivananda Pillar that pays tribute to the Swami and the Divine Master. The Sivananda Peace Pillar is already a great source of inspiration for all to remember that peace and love are greater than all of us but in all of us.

By this example today we are reminded that greatness comes from receiving and from giving; greatness can come from all of us if we thrive enough to make others achieve their own greatness. By providing the infrastructure necessary for others to survive and prosper, this project creates the space for others to move towards their own greatness.

We are part of a historic occasion to honour the memory of His Holiness who in life was one of the most outstanding citizens of country. Swami Sahajananda’s greatness was personified in his humility, his great work demonstrated that service is one of the greatest honours human beings can pay to other human beings. This Pillar will serve as a reminder to future generations of the importance of service in the process of building communities, a province and ultimately a wonderful country such as ours.

At our late former President’s 92nd birthday, Dr Nelson Mandela was presented with a replica of the Peace Pillar commemorating International Mandela Day. Madiba was most impressed by this peace initiative and supported this project since peace and reconciliation were close to his heart. We also acknowledge the support from the Amafa Heritage Council, President Jacob Zuma and his Majesty, the King.

As the provincial government, we would like to salute this initiative of installation of Peace Pillars in our country. The Sivananda Peace Pillars will be a source of inspiration to our future generations as they demonstrate the universality of all world religions. They shall assist in promoting peace and harmony in our province.

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen, I will not dwell much on the history as to how and why the Indian community came to South Africa in 1860, but I cannot overlook the fact that today we are the highest sugar cane producers because of their hard work.

We are aware that the first wave of indentured labourers from India hailed from Calcutta.

The Belvedere ship sailed from Calcutta on 4 October 1860 and it reached the shores of Natal on 16 November 1860. Within a period of six months the number of Indians in South Africa totaled 1029. Owing to voyages on 384 ships, their number continued to increase. By 1900, Indians in Natal outnumbered whites. At the same time, the tonnage of sugar produced in Natal increased manifold.

The arrival of Indians to South Africa 154 years ago unleashed heroes and added diversity to the country. During those 154 years, we have seen Indians who were brought to the country as slaves in the sugar plantations, toil their way out of the degrading condition of slavery to excel in different fields. Like many of us, these stalwarts of the struggle for justice and peace were inspired by the extraordinary, Mohandas Gandhi.

There were specific punitive laws imposed on the Indian community during those early years. One of them was the Ghetto Act, which culminated in the arrest of about 2000 Indians in Durban. The formation of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and the merger between the movement and the ANC produced eminent and tangible outcome as the fight against colonialism and later apartheid was strengthened, even as this resulted in the banning of both parties.

However, the Indian communities were not discouraged by such actions because they had cadres who contributed immensely in the Umkhonto WeSizwe (Spear of the Nation) and various underground structures. South Africa is where it is because of the tremendous contribution made by the Indian community in the struggle for transformation and against the successive apartheid governments.

It would be an omission not to commend the significant contribution made by the Sivananda World Peace foundation, Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman. Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman has shown compassion and devotion through his sterling work on behalf of the Indian community.

I must also acknowledge the significant contribution made by the Gift of Givers NGO in countries affected by disasters and engulfed by poverty. This organisation is run by Indians who have shown tremendous compassion to those in need. We should commend such commitments and encourage our business sector to adopt and continue this culture of giving back to poor communities.

The past 154 years echo with sentiments of gratitude and generosity, suffering and sacrifice, vision and tenacity. South Africa has truly been privileged to have such devoted leaders within its Indian community who worked tirelessly to fight for a better life for all communities and the disadvantaged racial groups.

With these words, I wish to conclude by encouraging the Indian community to partake in all government activities that address the plight of the poor and also to utilise government facilities within their demographic areas. South Africa belongs to all who live in it, as our Constitution puts it. Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you good luck in all your endeavours. May God bless you all.

I thank you.