Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag today could not hold back his emotions when he reached his ancestral Wajidpur village near here.
"Main apne pardada ki dharti par akar bhawuk hun (I am filled with emotion on reaching the land of my forefathers," he said at Wajidpur in Patna district from where his forefathers were taken to Mauritius as indentured labourers by the then British rulers about 150 years ago.
"I greet your land and you people," Purryag told people who had gathered to welcome him.
Accompanied by his wife Anita, Purryag is here for his first ever visit to Wajidpur. Purryag's distant nephews Mahesh and Ganesh Mahto spoke for some time with the Mauritius president.
Purryag recalled that he had visited Bihar about 25 years ago to find out the land of his forefathers, but failed during his three-day stay in Patna then.
He thanked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for tracing his ancestral village that made this visit possible. He lauded Kumar for bringing development in Bihar and changing negative perception about the state and its people.
"Now Bihar and its growth story is being talked about not only in other parts of India, but across the globe. Now we all proud of our Bihari origin," Purryag said.
Purryag said he and the people of Mauritius always cherished their association with India and Bihar.
Apologising to locals for being able to spend only some time in the village, Purryag said he would return to spend quality time with them and his relatives.
He also recalled the struggle and sacrifices of his forefathers after being taken to Mauritius.
Purryag said, "Our forefathers were lured by Britishers to go to Mauritius for a better life where they could virtually lay their hands on gold mines.
"However, they found only stones and boulders when they reached Mauritius. There was abject poverty and nothing much to eat," the Mauritius President said, adding that they worked tirelessly to build a modern and developed Mauritius.
"Our forefathers provided good education to their children for success in life" and since then, successive governments in Mauritius had given stress on educational infrastructure, he said.
During his brief visit to Mauritius in early 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi expressed pain and anguish at the plight of the indentured labourers and their families, Purryag said.
Gandhi had then laid stress on giving education to their children, he said.
In the Mauritius president's honour, the Bihar government laid a foundation stone for a high school in the village where he was also felicitated in presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other ministers.
Purryag's relatives in the village gave gifts like village soil contained in a silver 'lota' (pitcher), freshly harvested paddy and dhoti to the visiting President and his wife.