Dec 10, 2010

Aapravasi Ghat

Another card from Tasneem. He writes: "This postcard shows Aapravasi Ghat Unesco Site. This site is located in the harbour front of Port Louis, which is also our capital. This site is related with the arrival of Indian immigrants in Mauritius."

The Immigration Depot (Hindi: Aapravasi Ghat) is a building complex located in Port Louis, which was the first British colony to receive indentured, or contracted, labor workforce from India. From 1849 to 1923, half a million Indian indentured labourers passed through the Immigration Depot, to be eventually transported to plantations throughout the British Empire. The large-scale migration of the laborers left an indelible mark on the societies of many former British colonies, with Indians constituting a substantial proportion of their national populations. In Mauritius alone, 68 percent of the current total population has Indian forebearers. The Immigration Depot has thus become an important reference point in the history and cultural identity of Mauritius.

The name Aapravasi Ghat, which has been in use since 1987, is a direct Hindi translation of "Immigration Depot". Aapravasi is the Hindi word for "immigrant", while ghat literally means "interface"—factually reflecting the structure's position between the land and sea, and symbolically marking a transition between the old life and the new for the arriving indentured immigrants. Alluding to its function as a pit stop to prospective plantation workers, alternatively called coolies, the Immigration Depot has also been known by an older name, the Coolie Ghat.
The prominent use of the Hindi language in Mauritian naming conventions is based on social and ethnic demographics, with over half of the national population having Indian ancestry, a direct result of the Indian labor diaspora that passed through the Immigration Depot. [wikipedia]

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