Remembering the journey to Guadeloupe

Published - August 31, 2014 01:23 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY:

In memory of the arduous journey labourers undertook from the Puducherry Port to the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe on its 160th anniversary, a ceremony was held in their honour recently.

It was attended by students of the Bless School and Mannarmannan and G. Barathy, son and grandson of poet Bharathidasan. They paid floral tributes and observed two minutes of silence. Mr. Mannarmannan enlightened the students on the history of the anniversary.

The ceremony was held at the stele installed on the Pondicherry University guest house campus by the University of Reunion Island. It was organised by the NGO, Association for Regional Economic Development, in association with the cultural organisation, Souvenirs des Indes.

“Around 160 years ago, a ship called Aurélie left the Puducherry Port by the end of August or September. It arrived in Guadeloupe on December 26, 1854, with 314 passengers, including 15 children. They were the first Indian workers who arrived in Guadeloupe to work in the sugarcane fields,” said Christelle Gourdine-Mandjiny of Souvenirs des Indes.

Following the abolition of slavery in 1848, a contractual labour system followed by the French and the British witnessed the emigration of more than 60,000 people from the ports of Puducherry, Karaikal and Kolkata.

The French Guadeloupean community has proposed to install a memorial close to the Puducherry Port, on the lines of one at the Kolkata Port.

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