Woman power

Women in Bihar and Jharkhand have come out of the veil. They are treading new grounds of success. Education, agriculture, handicraft, IT or computer, no world is foreign to them. This month’s issue of the bjmirror.com is dedicated to women. Reports by ALOMIT

‘Separated’ daughter comes ‘home’

The Ganga blessed village of Bhelpur in Buxar district of Bihar has got further sanctified by visit of ‘bichhurhal buchia’ (separated daughter in Bhojpuri) Kamla Persad Bissessar, damaad babua (son in-law) Gregory and the younger daughter Vedawati Nutan.

PM Kamla

Incidentally, Kamla is the Prime Minister Trinidad and Tobago. She wiped her tears that had eyes welled up in emotions as she entered the court yard of the house dolled up like a bride. Kamla had come to Bhelpur in search of her roots in the ancestral village her great-grandfather, Ramlakhan Mishra, according to the records of the Trinidad and Tobago government, had migrated as (geermitia mazdoor) indentured labourer, along with 1,48,000 others from Bihar and Bengal to the Caribbean islands to work in sugar and cocoa plantations between 1845 and 1917.

Bhelpur and neighouring villages were in festive mood, some four days ahead of the most popular Makar Sankrati. All houses in the the Kamla’s village were glistening with new coats of lime and mud painting. The lane that led to her uncle Jagdish Mishra’s house was cleaned and levelled up the Ganga sands by the villagers themselves. The district administration had unfolded green carpets on the lane. Domestic animals were shooed away to avoid defiling of the path that would take the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister to the house, where her forefathers lived. The village women sang traditional songs in Bhojpuri to welcome their ‘PM daughter’ and conducted other rituals that mark the arrival of a daughter to her village. The standing band party men played the ceremonial songs.

Tearful union: ‘Bitia’ Kamla’s eyes welled up and tears rolled down as she meets her ‘kin’

The overwhelmed ‘bitia’ offered Namaskar to all people lining up the lane and entered the tiled house. There stood her aunt Janaki Devi and uncle Jagdish Mishra with garlands and other items to welcome the daughter. Kamla and her husband were standing at the doorsteps. Draped in a red sari and blouse, Kamla touched the feet of her Chacha and Chachi in a typical Bhojpuri style. She was offered garlands and other welcome items. The aunt and daughter were locked in embrace.

Two daughters and the son in-law were taken into the small courtyard. The Chachi applied red vermillion on the Kamla’s fairparting and offered a gold ‘mangtika’ (an ornament worn in the hairparting), Benarasi sari and khoincha (a traditional parting gift of coins and rice coloured in yellow). The son in-law was gifted dhoti-kurta and chadder (wrapper) while Nutan received a similar gifts. Kamla moved into the rooms of the tiled house, as if searching for some antiques of her great grand father. The century-old house remains un-tainted, but for occasional repairs to ward off the vagaries of Nature. She tasted chura, lai, tilkut and world famous sonpapari (of Buxar).

Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar sports Mangtika gifted by her aunt

The ‘Prime Minister’ daughter remained in the house for some 30 minutes. As a parting gift she gave a pair of gold Kangan, an ornament worn on wrist by women and sweet memories for the inmates and other villagers. The most precious gift from Kamla was the international image to Bhelpur. (The Trinidad and Tobago newspapers had given the wildest possible publiicity to the Bhelpur visit.) She did feet-touching of other kin. The rays of development and progress haveskirted Bhelpur so far. The village is composed of tiled-and thatched houses with a small sprinkle of double storeyed builings. The villagers are now hopeful that Kamla’s visit would attract the state government’s attention and usher in a new dawn.

The first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad apparently had a hang of the poverty in the house and village. The anguish seeped into her speech she delivered later. From the house Mrs. Kamla Bissessar went staight to a temporary podiun erected in nearby crop field. In a choked voice she narrated the struggle her ancestors went through in the Caribbean to survive and save their culture and tradition. ”Poverty and illiteracy took them away from their hearth and home to alien nand. But my forefathers knew the inportance of education in life”. And result is there. She said: “Education is the strongest weapon in your hands. Educate your children as it holds the key to the ultimate liberation”. She greeted over ten thousand cheering crowd saying: “Bhaiyon aur bahno pranam” (greetings to brothers and sisters) and switched over to English that was translated into Bhojpuri for the villagers. Her parting words were “I will treasure your memory. I will never forget you”.

Gifts for the ‘daughter’

Born in 1952, Kamla is the grand mother of two children. She assured her relatives and the villagers that she would inspire her children to visit their roots. The villagers gifted her pinch of its soil and a silver crown. She also planted five trees, neem, pakad, pipal, ashok and barh, near Sipariya Kali Mandir. She spent more than two and a half hours in the village.

Bihar has a unique distinction of producing yet another Prime Minister in a foreign country. Four years ago, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam had visited his ancestral village in Bhojpur district. A large number of people from Bihar had migrated to the Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Suriname, South Africa and other places in the 19th century to serve as indentured labourers on sugarcane and rubber plantations.

A helicopter had taken the 24-member Trinidad team to Bhelpur from Patna. Kamla has been in India to attend the ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ or diaspora meet in Jaipur. A special Air India flight brought her to Patna.

3 Responses to “Cover Story – Daughter comes Home”

  1. Dr.S.C.Srivastava Says:

    Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar is a proud for Buxar. Really her arrival to Bihar has given a feeling of daughter in the father’s home.

  2. Pankaj Kumar Singh Says:

    very well written article reflecting the quintessence of women power in the modern world.

  3. Dr.A.P.Verma Says:

    Who says daughters are liability.People of Bihar should take lesson that a Bihari girl has achieved such a glorious height and prestige.It is pride of Bihar and girls should be given ample opportunity to glow,they will show you the worth as ms.Kamla Prasad Bissessar has given.I am proud to that lady,she dared to come to her native place and encouraged the people of the state,but I am afraid Bihar could not honour as should be bgiven to her and Nitish should lesson from it.

    A.P.Verma

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