FRENCH WEST INDIES, July 4, 2014 (Montray Kreyol): The Ganesh D'Or (Golden Ganesh) prize was awarded to Gilbert Francis Ponaman at the Guadeloupe Council for Indian Languages (CGPLI) 12th anniversary celebration on June 27, 2014. The prize, given annually, was created to honor those who have done something significant in the promotion of Indian heritage, culture, religion or language in the French Antilles.
Ponaman was honored as being "the father of Indianness" and for his struggle for the recognition and acceptance of the Indian contribution to the Creole society of the islands. In 1967, encouraged by elders, he began a "back to our roots/Indian pride" movement among a small group of friends. He started the Soleil Indien (Indian Sun) journal in 1973, to define what it meant to be an Indian in a Creole society, through articles about Hindu religion and culture and the history of Indians in the Caribbean.
In 1980 he made his first pilgrimage to India. He spent eight months in Tamil Nadu reconnecting with the traditions of his forefathers and researching the roots of the Hindu traditions that still survived in his island home. Returning to the Caribbean, he began a prolific career sharing his knowledge through lectures and publications. He is still at it today, deep in his research, dividing his time between India, Paris and the French West Indies.