South African leg-spinner Keshav Maharaj's father Athmanand Maharaj revealed the history behind his surname and his family on Sunday. ‘Maharaj’ – gives a glimpse of royalty and richness when it comes to being a South African surname, while it is a very common surname in India.
Sr. Maharaj, whose forefathers belonged to Indian origin had shifted to South Africa from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh back in 1874, where they used to live as bounded labourers during the 19th century, revealed that his family arrived here in search for work and livelihood, as the rainbow nation provided work to many with the experience of farming sectors and other working options.
In South Africa, the Maharaj surname has become popular as it was the very first time when a player with such name –Keshav started playing for the country, and the youngster also has done justice to his skills, talent, and opportunity given by the country.
His father also revealed that former Indian batsman Kiran More had predicted a cricketing future for Keshav when he was just 3 years old. In 2016, Keshav made his Test debut against Australia while ODI against England in 2017, taking 50 wickets in 12 Tests and 4 wickets in 2 ODIs so far.
According to a report in Mumbai Mirror, Sr. Maharaj said, “On September 1, 1874 my great great grandfather arrived in Durban from Sultanpure in UP. That was the time when the Indian people used to come across to South Africa in search of work. The opportunities that were presented here were many. South Africa was looking for skilled laborers and the Indians, with their experience in farming and other sectors, contributed to the South African development.”
He further revealed, “We're the fifth or sixth generation Indians and one of my possessions is the certificate of origin. When I went down to India to study, I needed this certificate. That was how I could trace back my origins and family history. The stay in India (Mysore) was not very happy, so I came back. I took up physical education and taught in schools.”
The proud father also said that they have carried over the ‘Maharaj’ surname from their forefathers and it is not something which they have chosen themselves. Athmanand concluded by saying, “The Maharaj surname was carried over from my forefathers. The title is not something we chose. It came through the hierarchy and generations. I know the significance of the name in India.”