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“Girmitiyas”, or Indentured Labourers, is the name given to the Indians who left India in the middle and late 19th Century to serve as labourers in the British colonies, where the majority eventually settled. GIRMIT is a corrupt form of the English word “Agreement”. Labour emigrating under the Agreement or Girmit was a “Girmitiya”.[/ultimate_heading]History

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where I work and live. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who work and live on this land.

This website focuses on over 60,500 labourers who were transported to the Fiji Islands from 1879 – to 1916) to work on the plantations of Fiji.

Girmit.org acknowledge the National Archives of Fiji as custodians of the original collection material. The passes have been digitised and are freely available online through the National Library of Australia.

It serves as a knowledge base and a research tool. It is available, especially for the descendants of the original labourers (Girmitiyas) who are passionate about discovering their history and wish to verify their heritage. Girmit.org has been established to provide information for anyone interested in the history of the Indentured Labourers, the “Girmitiyas.” The British transported them to Fiji using the System of Indenture or Girmit, the term used by the Indian Indentures for the word Agreement.

[ultimate_heading heading_tag=”h3″]How to search for an Immigration Pass?[/ultimate_heading]

To trace the immigration pass of your ancestors, you will need the following details:

  • The name of the Girmitiya and the name of the Girmitiya’s father

OR

  • The name of the Girmitiays and the ship they arrived in Fiji.

If you don’t have the ship’s name, it may help if you know the year your ancestors arrived in Fiji. These critical details can often be acquired through dialogue with elderly relatives or neighbours who may have directly interacted with the Girmitiyas or recall hearing accounts about them. Regrettably, this knowledge is rapidly fading as the older generation diminishes.

Access by Arrival Date

  • If you know the year of arrival you may search here.

  • The data available is the Ship Name, the year of arrival, immigration pass number range.

  • The "View Online" link will direct you to the National Library of Australias Trove database records of the passengers who arrived in the respective ship during that year.

Access by Ship Name

  • If you know the name of the ship, you may search here.

  • The data available is the Ship Name, the year of arrival, immigration pass number range. You will be redirected to the National Library of Australias Trove database where you can navigate to the correct immigration pass number.

  • You will be directed to the National Library of Australias Trove database with records of the respective ships passengers.

Access by Pass Number

  • If you know the immigration pass number or the range or an idea of the number range, you may search here.

  • The data available is the Ship Name, the year of arrival, immigration pass number range.

  • This search results are the passengers immigration pass number. From here you are able to obtain the ship name and access the "Search ship" records which will direct you to the National Library of Australias Trove database ship results.

The British and other European colonial powers started the Indian indenture system in 1838 as a cheap source of labour for their colonies after African slavery was abolished in 1833. Under this system, some 1.2 million Indians were displaced from India to the colonies between 1838 and 1916. Indian indentured emigration to Fiji began in 1879. It was started by Sir Arthur Gordon, the first substantive governor of the colony (1875-80), to meet the labour shortage caused by the Fijians’ prohibition of commercial employment and by the increasing uncertainty and cost of the Polynesian labour trade.

The above image is a screenshot from the BBC documentary “Coolies”

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Register of deaths of Indian Immigrants 1879 – 1927

As you likely know, the National Library of Australia (NLA) has released records of over 60,500 immigration passes for indentured labourers who arrived in Fiji through the Indentured System. Additionally, the NLA has made available a registry documenting the deaths of Indian Immigrants during the years 1879 to 1972. Regrettably, certain pages have suffered deterioration…

Girmitiyas – A Sad Tale (Video Credit NeoBihar)

Girmitiya Kantraki Bhojpuri Song | Raj Mohan | NeoBihar & Champaran Talkies This video has been produced by Neetu Chandra, featuring Raj Mohan, NeoBihar.

Quote from Tears in Paradise by Mr Rajendra Prasad

Rajendra Prasad’s Tears in Paradise is now available at Amazon as an ebook for your Kindle or Kindle App on your iOS or Android devices. I was very impressed with the Kindle edition of this book – the most convenient part is that I can flip to any page and read any bit as and…

Kunti’s Cry (An excerpt from “Chalo Jahaji – By Dr Brij Lal)

[bsf-info-box icon=”fas fa-quote-left” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#dd8500″ icon_animation=”fadeInUpBig” hover_effect=”style_2″ pos=”left” title_font=”font_family:Merriweather|font_call:Merriweather|variant:900″ title_font_style=”font-weight:900;” desc_font=”font_family:Merriweather|font_call:Merriweather|variant:900″ desc_font_style=”font-weight:900;” desc_font_color=”#dd8706″] An employer often complains, that the women suckle their infants, too long and that they could be left in the lines much sooner than is usually done.  These gentlemen forget that these people have no other means of providing suitable nourishment for…

The Story of Kunti & Naraini

The initial number of women in the Colonies were less.  It was also considered that if the labourers had a family living in the colonies they would be more likely to stay on. Women, however, were not treated well; apart from living in appalling conditions, they were expected to return to work on the farms…

An Indentured Labourer’s Story

I have taken screenshots from the BBC Documentary, Coolies:  How Britain Reinvented Slavery.  The full documentary is available under the History tab on this website.  The screenshots are part of the interview undertaken by Dr Brij V Lal who visited Late Mr Deo who was an indentured labourer who arrived in Fiji under the Indian…

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This website has been created to pay tribute to these Girmitiyas and to provide information to anyone who shares similar interests and sentiments towards this very sensitive and important part of our history.

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