By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
The Fiji Museum this week opened a newly renovated section that focuses on the Fijian-Indian experience.
Fiji Museum Head of Special Projects, Dr. Katrina Iggleston said at the opening yesterday, “This new area of the museum focuses solely on the Girmitya experience, so within the museum itself, we have always had small pockets of displays, sharing these collections.”
India’s External affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar attended the opening, and the exhibition is supported by the Indian High Commission.
“This is just a small glimpse; it’s a small space, but it shares stories of arrival, traditional ritual, and how communities come together and continue to and adapt ways of creativity in the adornment of being together in a new place,” Iggleston explains.
“What the government of India shared with us is that not a lot of people in India know about the reason for the Girmitya, the experience of the voyage coming over to Fiji, and also many other British colonies around the world.”
After the formalities, I was excited to see how they had transformed this next space, as I had visited soon after the opening of the ‘Voyages’ exhibition. Iggleston wasn’t joking when she said a small space. But it is packed with the rich history of the Girmitya experience; even the walls tell the historical journey from India to Fiji.
I was fascinated by the headdress and the jewellery section; it appeared to be a comparison of old jewellery design and what appeared to be modern versions. Iggleston explains that “a lot of what’s come into the museum, kind of within these pockets of collections, was donated in the mid-20th century, and some quite close to the 21st century, but the majority were 19th-century materials that were passed down through families.”
The museum has more sections opening soon, including one dedicated to masi.
Fiji Museum opening hours:
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
9:00AM – 7:00 PM