PAR­LIA­MENT

‘BUT NOW GIVEN THE WAY WE ALL COME TO­GETHER AND THE WAY WE ALL LIVE TO­GETHER, IT NEEDS TO BE COM­MENDED HERE’

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - JY­OTI PRATIBHA Edited by Percy Kean Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Im­mer­sion of Ashes back in 1992 was a ‘touchy is­sue’: Ratu Naiqama

Hin­dus were not given a ded­i­cated site to re­spect­fully do im­mer­sion of ashes of their loved ones back in 1992 be­cause it was a ‘touchy is­sue’ says SODELPA Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Ratu Naiqama Lal­a­bal­avu.

He made the as­tound­ing com­ment while de­liv­er­ing SODELPA’s re­sponse to Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s min­is­te­rial state­ment on the Vatuwaqa Fu­neral Rites Fa­cil­ity which was funded by the Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment and re­cently opened.

Ratu Naiqama’s shock­ing com­ment came af­ter Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out that a for­mer Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party mem­ber in his maiden speech had called for such a fa­cil­ity to be built back in 1992 when SODELPA leader Si­tiveni Rabuka was the Prime Min­is­ter.

The mem­ber, who used his maiden speech to urge for such a fa­cil­ity to be built for Hin­dus in 1992, was Sayed Ab­dul Khaiyum who again urged the Gov­ern­ment and then Prime Min­is­ter Rabuka by the way of a mo­tion in 1998.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum yes­ter­day read out ex­cerpts of his fa­ther’s speech in Par­lia­ment and re­minded the House that if the pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ments had wanted, such a fa­cil­ity would have been built for the Hindu com­mu­nity decades ago.

The fa­cil­ity - a ghat - is where Hin­dus can re­spect­fully do ash im­mer­sion of their de­parted fam­ily mem­bers which is an im­por­tant part of the fu­neral rites.

But Ratu Naiqama re­vealed in Par­lia­ment that giv­ing the Hindu com­mu­nity this right was a ‘touchy is­sue’.

“That time, pro­vi­sion of cer­tain rights to be ac­corded to some was a touchy is­sue, but now given the way we all come to­gether and the way we all live to­gether, it needs to be com­mended here,” he said. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum in­formed the House that the Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to build­ing at least three more such ghats, around the coun­try, which mem­bers of the Hindu com­mu­nity can use. Pre­vi­ously for ash im­mer­sion, men from Hindu fam­i­lies would go to any avail­able sea side, which did not nec­es­sar­ily have the re­quired fa­cil­i­ties such as show­ers, to carry out the rites re­spect­fully.

Also, for the first time, seven dif­fer­ent Hindu and Sikh com­mu­ni­ties- the Then In­dia San­marga Ikya Sangam, Shree Sanatan Dharam Pra­tinidhi Sabha of Fiji, Sikh Gu­rud­wara Pra­band­hak Com­mit­tee, Arya Pra­tinidhi Sabha of Fiji, Gu­jrat Sa­maj, Kabir Sat Dharm Par­chak Maha Sabha, Shree Sanatan Dharam Puro­hit Brah­man Maha Sabha Fiji, Gand­harva Sangee­ta­laya and the Fiji Sevashram Sangha have come to­gether and will col­lec­tively care for the fa­cil­ity.

No money will be charged to those want­ing to use the fa­cil­ity.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum in­formed the House that the Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to build­ing at least three more such ghats, around the coun­try, which mem­bers of the Hindu com­mu­nity can use.

Photo: Ronald Ku­mar

Stu­dents of Nasau­vere Pri­mary School of Wain­i­mala, Naitasiri, with Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum dur­ing their Par­lia­ment visit on May 17, 2018.

Ratu Naiqama Lal­a­bal­avu out­side Par­lia­ment on May 14, 2018. Photo: Simione Har­a­vanua

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