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Seychelles Celebrates 248th Anniversary of Arrival of Indians

A yacht and Seychelles flag at La Digue island.

Remembering the contribution of migrants in the development of Seychelles, Phillipe Le Gall, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Seychelles in India, said a historic and emotional connection was forged over two centuries ago.

Le Gall was speaking at an event organized on Aug. 27 at Pondicherry University to commemorate the 248th anniversary of the arrival of the Indian diaspora in the Seychelles islands. On the same day in 1770, five Indians from Puducherry reached Seychelles along with a few other immigrants and settled there. Ship surveyor Brayer du Barre organized the first human settlement in Seychelles, including the five Indians, in 1770, Le Gall said.

A group consisting of 15 white colonists, seven slaves, five Indians and one African woman, started its journey from Ile de France in Mauritius toward Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, on Aug. 12 that year and reached there after 14 days, the Times of India reported.

The names of the five Indians, who reached the islands 248 years ago, were Chary, Moutou, Menate, Corinthe and Domainge, Paokhol Haokip, an Assistant professor in the Department of History at Pondicherry University, was quoted by the publication as saying at the function. Haokip delivered a lecture on ‘Genesis of the Indian Diaspora in Seychelles’ during the event.

The event was organized in remembrance of these five Indians at Pondicherry University in collaboration with the High Commission of Republic of Seychelles.

The arrival of the first five Indians in Seychelles marked the beginning of a historic and emotional connection between the two countries, Le Gall said at the event, PTI reported. The high commissioner also released a special souvenir to commemorate the arrival of the first five Indian migrants to Seychelles, it added.

After the first migrants reached Seychelles, a number of laborers, traders, masons and carpenters from Puducherry and other parts of South India started arriving in the country.

A number of sepoys from the French regiment of Puducherry were deployed in Seychelles because the colonial authorities preferred Indian soldiers over their French counterparts for protecting their possessions in the Indian Ocean, Le Gall said.

Highlighting the important role played by the Indians in Seychelles, Gall lamented that history has forgotten the huge contribution of the first Indian settlers. “History is by definition full of oversights,” he was quoted by the Hindu as saying.

He also expressed his grief over the loss of lives in the recent Kerala flood. “I wish to pay tributes to all those helping the families of the victims during such painful circumstances,” he said, as per publication’s report.

On this occasion, Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi called for planning an event on the lines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to bring together the Persons of Indian Roots (PIR) from around the world. She also tweeted the glimpses of the event with her suggestion of the PIR event.

A few years ago, a monument was established at the Puducherry University campus to remember the role of migrant workers from the union territory. Bedi, Gall and others placed a wreath on the memorial to pay tribute to the first five Indians who went to Seychelles.