Hariji (Haripersad Harikissoon) celebrated his 76th birthday (August 06, 20210 at his home in Endeavour, Chaguanas with friends and family. Hariji has been ailing for the past three years but is always in high spirits.
The friends included Pandit Beeshram, Parbatie & Siew Babwah, Pandit Vigyan, Kumar Rambarran, Pandit Kumar Boodram, Jangh Bahadur Bhagiratee, Wayne Lalchan and Hemraj Dookie.
In addition to the cutting of cake and the serving of snacks, the guests joined in the singing of the Hanuman Chalisa, the garlanding of Hariji and in doing his arti. It was an emotional moment for Hariji and all present.
A retired teacher, Hariji was the founder of the Hindu Jawaan Sangh and the Hindu Seva Sangh. A brilliant speaker, Hariji is renowned for his ability to deliver discourses on Hindu dharma and history that inspired pride in his listeners. His biggest impact was on the hundreds of youths that participated in the Sangh Shiksha Varg or Youth Development Camp.
As President of the Hindu Seva Sangh, Hariji was instrumental in popularizing Indian Arrival Day (May 30) through the re-enactment of the landing of the Fatal Rozack and street processions across the country-Moruga, Cedros, Orange Valley, Bamboo, Cunupia, Tunapina, Claxton Bay and Felicity- and open-air concerts.
An aspect of the Indian Arrival Day commemoration at Waterloo was the construction of the Seedas Sadhu Monument, a joint project of the Seva Sangh, the family of Seedas Sadhu, villagers of Waterloo and the Couva/Tabaquite/ Regional Corporation.
More than his community work was Hariji’s humility and ability to get along with all. Always opened to ideas, Hariji has always been a good listener. Through this noble quality he has won the friendship of all.
Known for his hospitality, Hariji offers chai to his guests but there was also the more elaborate menu to reward the many youths and friends that volunteered their time, money and resources in the many projects of the Sangh. He was always generous to invite friends to join with him for holidays at Mayaro and Tobago.
Pandit Beeshram said that it was the encouragement of Hariji that provided him with the confidence to take to the singhasan. Beeshram said: ‘If I am a pandit today it is solely because of Hariji.”
Jang Bahadur Bhagiratee recollected his coming into contact with Hariji at St Augustine Senior Comprehensive School and the first Youth Development Camp in 1984 at the Moruga Composite where Jang was teaching.
Listening to all speaking, it was underlined that Hariji has touched their lives deeply and helped shaped who they are today. Hemraj Dookie said: “Had I not met Hariji and the Hindu Seva Sangh, my life might have been a wreck. Everything that I am today is due to Hariji.”
It was clear to me after listening to the few words of those present that Harji was a builder of people, a rare trait in this highly competitive world.