63 years after death, Indian migrant’s ashes reach home


Chandigarh : More than six decades after his death, ashes of Pooran Singh, who had migrated from Punjab to Australia in 1899 and died there in 1947, were Friday immersed in the Ganga river in Haridwar.

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Pooran, hailing from Uppal Bhupa village in Jalandhar district, worked as a hawker, moving from settlement to settlement in a horse-drawn carriage with goods, in Australia. He died June 8, 1947 in Warrnambool in Victoria province, aged 77.

His body was cremated in Melbourne June 10, 1947 but his ashes were preserved by Guyett, of the funeral home as Pooran had wished his ashes be returned to India and be immersed in the Ganga. Three generations of the Guyett family had preserved the ashes till the time Pooran’s last wishes could be fulfilled.

Pooran’s story was broadcast on Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Radio June 2010 and aroused a huge public response. Renowned cricketer Kapil Dev and Pooran’s grand-nephew Harmel Uppal, who is settled in Britain, especially flew to Melbourne to receive the ashes.

“I came across this unique story through my historian friends Len Kenna and Crystal Jordan. Its been an amazing journey so far,” Manpreet Singh, a representative of SBS Radio, who accompanied Pooran’s ashes to India, told IANS.

“The response to our trip was overwhelming in Melbourne and the people at Pooran’s village were quite enthusiastic when we reached there yesterday (Thursday) with the ashes. We saw Pooran’s ancestral house, renovated with the money which he had sent home,” she added.

“His name is also inscribed outside the house,” she said.

“Today (Friday) we have immersed them (the ashes) in the Ganga,” Manpreet said.

Uppal said he was “very happy that we have been able to fulfil the last wish of Pooran”.

“The Australians were very cooperative and they have made a great gesture,” he added.