History of the Indian Community in Avoca Hills, Durban

The city of Durban has many distinctive suburbs with their own history of rich heritage culture. The suburb of Avoca Hills is one such town which was named by a Scottish sugar cane farmer after his hometown in Scotland. Avoca Hills was inhabited mainly by generations of the Indian indentured labourers who has shaped the town and started a culture of their own in the area.

The early residents of Avoca Hills referred to their town as Pulwa Ples (flowers in the North Indian language) because of the abundant flower farms that are found in the area.The indentured labourers formed a barracks and lived in simple mews situated on a ridge next to Umhlangane River also part of the Umgeni River. The mews was built by a sugar baron Mr Harrison for the labourers who worked for him in the sugar cane plantations. The majority of these labourers bought land in this suburb after their discharge to settle down in and thus created a culture and lifestyle of their own.

The most common place of gatherings in Avoca Hills was Mr Essop Adam General Store which was at the corner of Umhlangane Street and North Coast Road. There was also an open space where all the community members would gather and celebrate festivals. The festivals included mock stick fights, traditional music such as Nagara, and sports such as boxing, fire walking and especially the Tajiya festival. The Tajiya festival was an occasion where models of mosques and temples were paraded. This brought the Muslim and Hindu cultures together.

Some families owned cattle for livelihood purposes and people use to take their cattle once a week for a free cattle dip. The cow dung was gathered and used as mud for yards and floors. They also practiced flower farming, grew fresh vegetables and sold them at the market. The most common flowers grown in Avoca Hills were Red Hot Pokers, Lady Green, Daisies, Carnations, Sweet Peas and Roses. There was no sewage systems and toilets at that time were built far from the houses where night soil was deposited into buckets which was changed regularly by municipal workers.

The earliest forms of transport in Avoca Hills were the horse and cart and trains. The fresh fruit, vegetables and milk was delivered daily by horse and carts. The post office was situated at the railway station and is still at the same place. In the past the tarpaulins which covered the rail carriage was hired as tents for weddings. The first formal school was a wood and iron structure at the corner of North Coast and Victor Roads. The first temple in Avoca Hills was the Shree Lutchmana that was erected on a piece of land donated by a Hindu family. In 1906, a state aided Avoca Indian Primary School was built in Tyrne Avenue. It was open to admission for pupils from Springvale, Duffs Road, Effingham,Quarry and Red Hills.

IsiZulu Summary: Umlando womphakathi wamaNdiya endaweni yase-Avoca Hills, eThekwini
Idolobha laseThekwini lakhelwe izindawo zabantu ezenza umlando omkhulu wendawo, enye yalezindawo yindawo yase-Avoca Hills eyayaziwa ngokuthi yi-Pulwa Ples okuchaza izimbali ngolimi lwaseNyakatho yaseNdiya, ngenza yezimbali eziningi ezitholakala kulendawo. Lendawo yakhelwe kakhulu ngamaNdiya.

Iningi lamaNdiya lakwazi ukuthenga umhlaba ngemuva kokukhululwa kwabo ebugqileni ukuziqalela impilo endaweni abasebeyijwayele. Indawo ekwakuhlanganwa kuyo ngezikhathi zakudala kwakuyisitolo esaziwa ngokuthi Mr Essop Adam General Store esasisekhoneni lemigwaqo Umhlangane ne North Coast. Kwakukhona nendawo eyayivulekile lapho umphakathi wawuhlangana khona ukubungaza izinsuku ezibalulekile. Lemibungazo singabala umdlalo wokungcweka, umculo wendabuko waseNdiya, i-Nagara, imidlalo yesibhakela nokunye okubalulekile esingakubalula kwakuwumgubho owaziwa nge Tajiya Festival. Lomgubho kwakungangiswa ngemifanekiso yezindlu zokukhonzela zamaSulumane kanye namaThempeli, lokhu okwakenza ukuthi amaSulumane namaHindu ahlanganyele ndawonye.

Eminye imindeni yayifuyile izinkomo, ezaziyiswa ediphini kanye ngesonto mahhala. Ubulongwe babusetshenziswa ukusinda phansi ezindlini nasegcekeni. Abanye babetshala izimbala nezithelo nemifino okwakudayiswa emakethe. Izindlu zangasese kwakusetshenziswa amabhakede, ayelandwa ngabasebenzi bakamasipala. Izinto zokuthutha zokuqala endaweni yase Avoca Hills singabala amahhashi nezitimela. Iposi lakulendawo lisakhiwe esiteshini sesitimela. Ezikhathini zakudala abantu uma benemicimbi emikhulu njengemishado babeqasha useyili owawumboza izinqola zesitimela ukwenza amatende. Isikole sokuqala sasakhiwe ngamapulangwe nothayela ekhoneni likaNorth Coast no Victor Roads. IThempeli lokuqala kwabayi Shree Lutchmana, elakhiwa endaweni eyanikelwa ngumndeni othize. Kwathi ngonyaka ka-1906 isikole sokuqala sikahulumeni sakhiwa ku-Tyrne Avenue, i- Avoca Indian Primary School.

By: Yoveshine Pillay
Reference: The Post newspaper, Special Supplement page 112, 16 November 2010

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