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Republic Of Fiji Honours Its Sikh Pioneers On Its New Currency





The picture of a Sikh gentleman in a turban with flowing beard is now featured on the new two dollar currency note of the Republic of Fiji.

If we look at the history of the Sikh community on the Fiji islands, then despite being in the minority, Sikhs living in Fiji played a very important role in the development of this country.

In the earlier days of their settlement, Sikh-Fijians worked in Suva and Nausori areas. Some of them were engrossed in shopkeeping business and others in farming.

The British Empire induced many of them to move to the islands around the First and Second World Wars. Sikhs served as soldiers in the British Army, colonial Police Forces, and other disciplined services. Sikhs were appointed for such hard duties because of their physical strength and tall appearances, and many of them decided to settle down there after the wars ended and thereafter integrated successfully.

Sikhs are known to be amongst the most amiable and generous of all creeds and races. The extraordinary ethnic costumes of Sikhs are a big attraction for anyone. They wear their turban with pride and look upon it as a mark of their victorious and glorious tradition.

Sikhs can be found in various countries serving their countries as famous professionals like national leaders and politicians, doctors, lawyers, engineers, sportsmen, administrators, bankers, businessmen, and farmers, etc. Conventionally Sikhs are service oriented, kind, honest, strong, hardworking, dynamic, and responsible people.

In 1874 when the Fiji’s government was going through a financial problem the then Governor Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon hatched a new way to make money for Fiji. The only feasible way was through sugar plantations.

The British Government did not want to disrupt the locals at that time, so they decided to import more manpower to Fiji for the plantation. The British colonial officials arranged for, inter alia, Sikh immigrants to Fiji and the first to land on the islands was in the year 1879 via the steamer ferry with around 460 such immigrants from the subcontinent.

Sikhs in Fiji have established them very well and they contributed a lot to the progress of the island nation. They boast a Khalsa Primary School and Khalsa College. They are there in the Fiji parliament and many run successful businesses.

Sikhs have built many impressive gurdwaras on the islands, such as the Tagi Tagi Gurdwara, the Suva Samabula Gurdwara, the Lautoka Gurdwara, and the Labasa Gurdwara.

Sikh-Fijians have given a lot to Fiji and their contribution towards the betterment of the country has been commendable. They have made a valuable contribution to the economy of this country and they deservedly receive appreciation all over the world.

 [Courtesy: Tech Wiki. Edited for]
January 15, 2017

Conversation about this article

1: Brig. Nawab Singh Heer (Davenport, Iowa, USA), January 16, 2017, 4:49 PM.

President of Fiji is a dear friend of mine. We served together and were also part of the Syndicate to attend 10 days' US-sponsored Pacific Armies' meet. I was the Syndicate leader and he was a member. He is very humble and does likes Sikhs very much. By keeping the image of a Sikh on his nation's $2 bill, he has made us proud. He is a friend of Sikhs. We must honor him.

2: Manpreet Kaur Singh (Melbourne, Australia), January 26, 2017, 6:16 AM.

Through our Fijian High Commission in Australia, I've checked with the Reserve Bank of Fiji - this note was actually issued in 1999. If you notice it has Y2K written on it, and is probably the first currency note of the current millenium. So, its not a new note - and it was only a limited edition, so hasn't been reprinted. That said, it was a wonderful gesture on behalf of the Fijian government to acknowldege the diversity of their multicultural nation.

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