Some members of the Tikaram Family in Fiji and from abroad pictured during the unveiling of the Tikaram family plaque at Tikaram Park in Lami. Photo: BOBBY TIKARAM.
By ANA SOVA
On 10th July, 1912 Thakur Tikaram and his wife Singaribai from Aligar, India came to Fiji as Girmityas on board the ship Ganges II.
For the ﬁrst in three and half years they were stationed in Viria, Nausori and later in Wainadoi before ﬁnally settling down in Lami in 1917, buying the shop of Police Sergeant Chote Khan where TIKARAM PARK is today.
Their nearest neighbours were the people of Suvavou on the foreshore side facing Suva Harbour, the people of Lami village on the banks of Lami River and the Rogers, Chutes, Abu Bakars, Kamalis, Rodans, Shaws and the Houng Lees on the Nukuwatu stretch on the right hand side of Queens Road going towards Nadi.
Tikaram subsequently went into transport business starting with horse and cart which was the mode of travel in those days.
When motor vehicles began to arrive in Fiji, he bought a model T Ford to run as a taxi. Soon a second car was purchased, a Standard Dodge which he operated from adjacent to Burns Philip, the only concrete taxi garage in Suva then.
There were 17 individual taxi owners; including Tikaram’s who operated from there, which was then called the Suva Taxi Service later known as Golden Arrow Taxis.
This was the beginning of the Tikaram Legacy in Fiji.
To commemorate the renowned family’s humble beginning, the Tikaram hosted a four-day celebration to mark their family centenary last month.
It started with a gathering at Tikaram Park in Lami for the official unveiling of historical family plaque and lunch on September 20th and ended with a champagne brunch at Waitika Farm in Wairuku, Rakiraki on September 23rd.
Organising Committee Chair and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Fiji, Anil Tikaram said it was only ﬁtting that the ﬁrst day of the celebration began from the very spot where Thakur and Singaribai started a family that has now spread all over the globe.
“Without singling anyone out, our family has played and continues to play a signiﬁcant role in the development of Fiji, particularly in the spheres of transport, judiciary, telecommunication, scouting & leadership, sports, entertainment and hospitality to mention just a few,”
“Including grandma Singari’s five family members who have been officially recognised by the government for their dedication to the country by having honours bestowed upon them,” Mr. Tikaram said.
He said the responsibility was now on the grand and great grand children and future generations to carry on and build upon the senior Tikarams’ enormous legacy.
Thakur and Singaribai had 11 children, Kissum Lal Tikaram, Madho Singh Tikaram, Radhe Harry Narayan Tikaram, Justice Sir Moti Tikaram, Shiu Narayan Tikaram, Jerry Tikaram, Kala Wati Maharaj Bhai, Sushila Devi Satyanand, Countess Sumitra Tikaram de Brouchoven de Bergyeck, Sahodra Devi and Bobby Tikaram.
Of the second-generation Tikaram siblings only three are surviving, Sumitra in the United Kingdom, Sahodra in Sydney and Bobby in Fiji but Tikaram’s grandchildren and great-grand -children are spread around the world.
The youngest and only surviving male sibling of the second generation Tikaram, Bobby Tikaram said it was an honour and privilege for him to be having attended the historic family event.
Mr. Tikaram has now retired and has made Nadi his home. He had moved to Nadi in 1964 and joined the Civil Aviation Authority as Air-Radio Communication Cadet.
The 74 year old said he was very grateful to his parents for their hard work and foresight, without which he said the family wouldn’t be what it is today.
The former athlete added he was particularly thankful to his mother for thinking of the people especially the children of Lami by donating their piece of land where the Tikaram Park is today, to the Lami Town Council.
“We are also very appreciative of the hard work by Lami Town Council, under the able leadership of Special Administrator, Mr Jasper Singh and with financial help from the Government in redeveloping the foreshore for recreational purposes with the project cost of almost one million dollars,” Mr. Tikaram said.
The former Nadi Soccer Association President and Secretary of Fiji Football Association said he was thankful to his nephews who organised the event, Anil son of Sir Moti Tikaram, Tarun son of Kissun Lal Tikaram and Lawrence and Chris sons of Jerry Tikaram.
Mr. Tikaram said his elder sister Sumitra travelled from the United Kingdom to be part of the celebration but unfortunately his other elder sister, Sohodra who is based in Sydney won’t be able to attend due to health reasons.
“We were very fortunate to have Sumitra join us in the celebration”.