Historical Background of Telugus in Mauritius
The Telugus came to Mauritius in the 19th Century from the southern part of India, particularly from the following regions- Badraachalam, kaakinaada, Chittoor, Madras, Simhaachalam and Vishakhapatnam.
Together with other Indians of different ethnic groups, the Telugus came to work as indentured labourers. Needless to say they underwent untold sufferings working in the sugar cane fields and living in conditions of near slavery.When the Telugus came to Mauritius they brought along with them valuable scriptures. They did their very best to preserve their culture, language and religion. They forcefully helped to transmit the above to their descendants and thus maintained their identity as Telugus.In those days, the Andhra would meet in the evenings after a hard day’s work. They would meet in a modest thatched hut, which they built as their temple or place of worship. Here they would read and explain the Holy Scriptures. Here too, they would talk and discuss matters pertaining to religion and culture.
The need for a Telugu Sabha
As days passed the Telugus realised that the need of a Telugu sabha, a seat where they could meet and discuss their social and economic welfare and educational advancement was keenly felt.
In this context after much struggle, some determined leaders among the Telugu people founded the Telugu Association on 4th August 1946 and incorporated it on 30th July 1947. Later the association was renamed as the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha and was in Champs de Mars at that time. And with the help of many people the seat of the Sabha was shifted to Grand River North West.
The Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha
Situated on the main road of Grand River North West nobody can deny that our Mauritians do not know the venue of the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha. It has now become very well known in the whole country. The venue consists of an office, a hall, the traditional temple and the bust of Potti Shri Ramulu.
The intension of building the hall was to perform marriage and programs. Giving the hall for marriages it has become as a source of revenue for the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha. This complex was inaugurated on the occasion of Shri Bhaava Naama Ugaadi on the 11th April 1994. Later in the year 2003 on the occasion of Swabhaanu Ugaadi it was renamed as the Tyaagaraaja Mandapam by Shri Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Ex Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Lots of marriages and programs are held in this hall. It can accommodate some hundreds of people easily. On the occasion of Ugaadi and Andhra Avatarana Dinotsavam the programs are held in this hall. Every year the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha organise Ugaadi at national level in this hall. Moreover the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha organise Ramabhajanam, Govinda Pooja and recently Loka Shanti Kalyaanam wit great fervour. It’s a place where we are sure that we will meet our Telugu people every time there is a program.In the venue itself there is a traditional temple called the Chinna Tirupati Shri Venkateshwara Aalayam. Everyday morning and afternoon prayers are performed by an Indian priest employed by the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha itself. Moreover without forgetting that the monthly kalyaanam too is held in the temple.To promote the Telugu language among the Telugu people, the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha even organise Telugu examination at national level from Standard 1 to Form 5 in different parts of the island every year in November. The MAMS even organise Muggu competition at regional and national level every year. The best selected are awarded prizes.Lets conclude by saying that the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha is doing its level best to propagate and preserve the Telugu religion, language, culture and traditions.