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History of Hindu Maha Sabha
Founded on 27th February 1925, the Hindu Maha Sabha became the first structured Hindu Association in Mauritius with a deeply-rooted and respectable seat in its function. Pandit Ravishankar Heeralall and many other eminent personalities of the Hindu Community formed part of the Committee with the aim of looking into the problems facing the Hindus at large during the colonial rules. Subsequently they tried to identity ways and means to alleviate the perpetual sufferings and hardships of the community. With this idea in mind, they drafted the following aims and objectives:
i. To provide instruction for Hindu children or grown up people with a view to their advancement, physical, moral, intellectual, religious and social.
ii. To promote and propagate the religious, social and cultural advancement of all Hindus of Mauritius.
iii. To build temples in Mauritius and to undertake the Management and maintenance of such temples.
iv. To encourage the movement of moral, cultural and spiritual regeneration.
v. To build and maintain social hall /and/or auditorium.
vi. To erect any building that the Committee thinks fit.
vii. To open and maintain a library.
viii. To have from time to time lectures and debates on moral, literary, philosophical, religious and historical subjects and the like.
ix. To do other activities in a fair and lawful means conducive to the attainment of the objectives of the Association.
The Hindu Maha Sabha has played a very significant and decisive role in so far as the celebration of Maha Shivratree is concerned since its foundation. At the same time, it has always had a great and positive concern for the pilgrims converging to Ganga Talao right from its inception up to the current day. 1930 marks a turning point in the history of Hindu Maha Sabha because that was the memorable year when Maha Shivratree started gaining momentum year after year until what it is today. Since the festival became a nationwide celebration, the successive governments viewed it with great interest and therefore contributed immensely to improve the infrastructure at Ganga Talao. The welfare and comfort of the pilgrims became a matter of prime importance for the Governments. Sir Satcam Boolell who was Minister of Agriculture in 1962, visited Ganga Talao along with Mr. Edgerly, the then conservator of forest. The Hindu Maha Sabha seized this opportunity to make a request through the Minister of Agriculture so that the premises all around the lake be leased to the Sabha to enable it to organize the yearly celebration of Maha Shivratree. The lease was readily granted. In addition since 1948, the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund, under the chairmanship of Mr. Rotoo, provided all its support by putting various infrastructures for the welfare of the pilgrims at Ganga Talao with the support and collaboration of Hindu Maha Sabha. Similarly, the Grand Port/Savanne District Council wholeheartedly offered invaluable help in all its capacity.
The Hindu Pracharini Sabha as it stands today, was set up in 1935 by the Hindu Maha Sabha for the propagation of the Hindi Language and Indian Culture. Soon afterwards, in December 1941, a Hindu Sahitya Sammelan was held at "Cinema des familles" under the chairmanship of Shri Oumashankar Geerjanan. Following that sammelan, an exhibition was held at the seat of the Sabha.
After the publication of the ward report on education in Mauritius in 1944, primary education became universal and free. That in turn led to a great demand for secondary education. As such, the Hindu Maha Sabha College was set up in 1948 at the seat of the bhawan with a view to provide that level of teaching and learning to the large number of young Mauritians eagerly willing to achieve post primary education.
Some years after setting up the Hindu Maha Sabha College, in order to better the demand for education, Mr. Claude Louis Obeegadoo was requested as a professional, to take charge of the College and he later changed the name of the institution into that of Trinity College and the College remained operational until a few years back.
During that period, Hindu Maha Sabha strove very hard in order to achieve its objectives. Those were the memorable years when we had hardworking, dedicated and eminent persons like Shri Satcam Boolell, Mr. Dayanand Basant Rai, CMG, OBE and Mr. Bickramsingh Ramlallah and Mr. Vivakanundsing Goburdhun, among others, who contributed to the welfare of the Hindus in Mauritius. They actively manifested their interest and dedication for the pilgrims and devotees converging to Pari Talao at that time.
In a nutshell, we can simply conclude that Hindu Maha Sabha has had the privilege and honour of having visionary presidents to shape what Ganga Talao represents today for the Hindu Community.
List of Presidents
Damodur Toolsee, SA.GOSK
Chit Dukhira, FPPA, MSK
Hallooman Doobay Girdharee, OBE
Prominent events of Hindu Maha Sabha at Ganga Talao
The Hindu Maha Sabha Celebrated its 90th Anniversary on 27th February
1. A Cultural Programme was organized at Port Louis Theatre to celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the Sabha
2. Extension of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir with idols of Santoshi Mata, Anapurna Mata, Gayatree Mata, Durga Mata and Ram Parivar.
3. The idols were consecrated on 29th, 30th January and 1st February
4. A reception was given to Mrs. Meera Kumar, Speaker of the Lok Sabha of the Republic of India on 20th January
The Hindu Maha Sabha received Hon. Sashi Tharoor, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India on 16th November
On 3rd June, the Hindu Maha Sabha organized a function in honour of His Excellency Bondal Jaishankar, High Commissioner of India, at Ganga Talao and to award Hindi Speaking students who succeeded in obtaining scholarship in their HSC Examinations
A Cultural Programme was organized at the Theatre of Port Louis on 20th February to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Sabha
1. The Hindu Maha Sabha received His Holiness Sant Pujya Shri Murari Babu from Gujraat, India at Ganga Talao in May 2002
2. Artists from India were appointed to complete the dome and carry our decorations for the Shiv Parivaar Mandir near the lake. The consecration of the new idols for Shivji, Parvati Mata, Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya were effected on 12th, 13th and 14th February 2003
Construction of Ganga Dwaar at the side of Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. The monument was unveiled by Shri Murli Manohar Joshi, Minister of Human Resource Development, Science and Technology of the Republic of India on 2nd November
A new Shivling was placed in the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Sabha. The Murthee Sthapna was held from 8th to 10th February