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The Auckland Indian Association honoured senior members of the Kiwi-Indian community who have crossed the ninety-year milestone of their lives at a heartwarming function on Sunday 27 June.

The Association, which itself is in its centenary year, hosted a lunch for twenty-three “super seniors” that included a married couple and a centenarian, Mrs Ramiben Parshottam, a great-great grandmother aged 102. Also in attendance were a couple of hundred family members, friends, and community leaders.

The function began with an inspiring speech by Pandit Devrambhai Raval, priest of the Radha-Krishna Temple. While paying respects and expressing gratitude to the seniors for their long involvement and constant guidance in the workings of the Association, he underscored the importance of staying healthy in body and mind, particularly by staying connected and communicating regularly with friends and family.

The Association’s Seniors Committee Organiser, Dhiru Patel, mourned the loss of seven members this year and led a minute’s silence to pay respects to the departed.

Mr. Patel, who has been working tirelessly for the Association’s elderly members, spoke of the seniors’ busy activity calendar down recent years – particularly their travels around the world including India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Australia, the United States of America, Canada, South East Asia, and China – all between 2016 and 2019. Their travels since 2020, following the onset of the pandemic, have been restricted to destinations in New Zealand.

The seniors also attend regular workshops related to information technology, mental and physical wellness, and participate in walks in and around Auckland.

Each of the super seniors were honoured with certificates and mementoes. Brief profiles about their lives, times, challenges and successes were read out by the masters of ceremonies.

Minister for Transport Michael Wood congratulated the super seniors and addressed the gathering by video link from Wellington, being unable to travel because of travel restrictions from the capital.

Auckland Indian Association President Dhansukh Lal, former Member of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Honorary Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon also spoke at the event and gave away certificates and mementoes to the super seniors and the relatives of those that were unable to attend.

Mr Bakshi congratulated the nonagenarians and likened their status to the ‘nervous nineties’ that batsmen face in cricket. He said he wished them well to reach their centennial milestones. He said looking at their recent travel itineraries, he himself wished he was a senior citizen amid peals of laughter and lusty applause.

Mr Dhillon compared elders to precious jewels who had the wisdom of the ages. “Success comes from making good decisions and good decisions comes from experience,” he said. Being amidst these “super-experienced” seniors reminded him of visiting his ‘nanihal’ or ‘aji ke ghar’ (grandparents’ home) he added.

Respect for elders is embedded in Indian culture and how good a family is can be determined by how well it treats its seniors, Mr Dhillon said.

He praised Mr Bakshi for being committed to social and cultural engagement with the community despite not being in government. “It’s a true test of leadership when one serves the community responsibly without being in office or a position of power.”

New Zealand Police Ethnic Responsiveness Manager Jessica Phuang also gave away certificates and mementoes to recipients.

The day concluded with a sumptuous lunch put together as usual by the Association’s catering committee volunteers, while seniors blessed with musical talent sang memorable old Hindi numbers.

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102 and full of beans!

Auckland Indian Association may be 100 years old but one of its members is 102!

 A quiet unassuming woman, Ramiben Purshotam was born in India on 2

March 1919. She married Purshotam Makan and bore him two sons before he travelled to South Africa for, presumably, better prospects. Unfortunately, while there, he passed

away of tuberculosis. Now a widow with two sons, Ramiben lived with her in-laws working in the family fields to be self-sufficient. In 1974 extended family called her to New Zealand and she continues to reside with her eldest son Manu and daughter-in-law Ruxmani in

Otahuhu still tending the garden when she can. She listens daily to the Gayatri Mantra and chants Mala beads and enjoys reading religious books and Indian news. She’s also partial to junk food including Twisties, chips, ginger biscuits, short bread, and cheese on toast.

Blessed with two sons, eight grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren she also enjoys the company of friends.

First appeared in July 2, 2021 issue of The Indian Weekender.

https://www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pages/ArticleDetails/7/16156/New-Zealand/Communitys-nonagenarians-honoured