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