Century awaits couple
The country’s longest married couple are about to notch up yet another milestone.
Together for 81 years, Jeram and Ganga Ravji of Mt Roskill were named New Zealand’s longest-married couple by lobby group Family First earlier this year.
Now they are about to become a couple of centenarians.
On June 6 Ganga Ravji will turn 100 – barely a month after her husband.
Four generations of the family now live in New Zealand but the path to a century has not been an easy road for the couple.
They were both born in the small Indian town of Karadi and betrothed to each other at the age of 6.
Ganga says it was a common occurrence for children in the area to be kidnapped unless they were betrothed.
In 1928 Jeram moved to New Zealand but returned periodically to India after marrying Ganga at 19 years old.
It was during one of these visits that Jeram became swept up in the Indian independence movement, stood alongside Mahatma Gandhi and earned the title of ‘Freedom Fighter’.
Jeram says many men in his province threw their support behind Gandhi’s Salt March.
But Jeram was arrested during the opposition against British rule and thrown in prison for 10 months.
Before his arrest, Ganga was routinely tortured and beaten by police demanding information on her husbands’ whereabouts.
‘‘The police brought him to our village and confirmed they had the right person and they took him to the central jail,’’ Ganga says.
Jeram was taken more than 300 kilometres away to Sabarmati Central Jail.
‘‘In those days there were transport problems and with two young children, to go and see him was very hard,’’ Ganga says.
The significance of this period cannot be understated but Jeram says it was just something that had to be done.
In 1953 they returned to New Zealand and lived in Wanganui before moving to Auckland in 1981.
An extended family of six children, 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren now live in the city.
There is ample opportunity for large celebration but Ganga says a simple afternoon tea will be sufficient.
Jeram and Ganga Ravji have six children, 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren living in Auckland.