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trinidad & tobago

Through
During

the

that

kalapani

long journey
Thinking

A new
A new
A new

N ow stand
proud

and

home
destiny

With
Hoping.

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DIVERSITY
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THE KEY TO LIFE
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the family, of each group to the community, of each
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I The 1884 massacre

of Indians - editorial

This event is recorded in the annals of our history as the "Muharram Massacre
of 1884," and stands as perhaps the bloodiest event of British rule in colonial Trinidad
Indian Arrival Day is a sentimental and momentous
occasion for the descendents of East Indian immigrants in
Trinidad and Tobago. Not only does the 2004 event
commemorate the 159th anniversary of the arrival of
Indians to Trinidad and Tobago, but this year also marks
the 120thanniversary of the Hosay Riots of 1884.
On October so" 1884, 22 Indians were killed and 100
others injured in a hail of police bullets at a Hosay
procession in San Fernando. Included in the casualties
were defenseless women and children. This event is
recorded in the annals of our history as the "Muharram
Massacre of 1884," and stands as perhaps the bloodiest
event of British rule in colonial Trinidad.
The run-up to the confrontation between the colonial
masters and the Indians was derived from a growing trend
to violate the human rights of the Indian community. In the
wake of industrial strikes in Trinidad in the 1880s, the
colonial authorities realized that the Indian population in
the colony had to be controlled. To this end, when the
colonial government recognized the uniting influence of
Hosay, they immediately contrived a series of restrictions
which were imposed on the Indians, their religion and
culture. The latest petition restricting the staging of Hosay
was met with dismay and indignation. It was not very long
before the Indians realized that passive acceptance was not
an alternative. Armed with courage and determination,
indentured Indian celebrants ignored the ban and took to
the streets in their annual religious procession. Their
resistance was met with batons and bullets from British
policemen, soldiers and marir.es.
History records that on October so" 1884, the
government unleashed the mighty force of a full barrage of
police power upon Indian participants. The nation was
stunned. The government tried its best to conceal the
atrocity, but the culture of resistance and the commitment
to struggle by Indians could never be extinguished, unless
quenched by equality, justice and freedom.
Today, the descendants of these immigrant martyrs
engage in an equally historic struggle against the perils of
a new millennium and an ironically similar social
environment. The achievements of Indians have been
spectacular, but they now face a growing threat of terror,
crime and kidnapping.
Poverty and the loss of the traditional pursuits in the
agricultural sector continue to gnaw at the lifestyles of the
Indian community. The closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd., the
state enterprise which employed 9,000 persons who
cultivated more than 70,000 acres of sugar cane, citrus,
rice, and sustained animal husbandry, have created a

sense of hopelessness, despair and outrage in the
community which once depended on that company.
Crime and criminal activity have also become a deep
source of worry and concern, impacting heavily on the
business community and social relationships. In recent
years, spates of abductions have contributed to a growing
trend of migration among Indian businessmen and a
reduction in business activity. Whether by design, or
simply because of their involvement in the retail and
distributive trades, it has become a frequent occurrence for
the son or daughter of a wealthy businessman to be
abducted, and a ransom demanded for his/her safe release.
The kidnapping and murder of Ashmeed Baksh invokes
the memory of the massacre of Indians which took place in
1884. By and large, the population
has become
traumatized by these abductions. It is only a matter of time
before capital flight and the adverse publicity in the
international media result in permanent damage to the
economy.
Indian Arrival Day 2004 should, therefore, be
commemorated with the spirit that reflects a 159 year-old
struggle against oppression and fear. The victory of the
Indian community and the survival of their traditions are
made apparent through the very existence of a public
holiday dedicated to commemorating
their arrival in
Trinidad. Indian Arrival Day 2004 should be a recognition
of the Hosay martyrs who led the way to put their lives on
the line for the cause of unity, and the equity of Indian
expression, culture and freedom in a public space.

The authors are responsible for the content of their articles. The
opinions expressed therein are not necessarily those of the
publisher.
ICC is an independent non-profit educational organisation
recognised by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. It is
dedicated to publishing two magazines a year - a Divali souvenir
magazine, and an Indian Arrival Day commemorative magazine.
Dr Kumar Mahabir, Editor and Chairman
Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council (lCC)
E-mail: mahab@tstt.net.tt
Tel: (868) 674-6008. Tel/fax: (868) 675-7707
Cover depicts a tadjah (ornate mausoleum) paraded during a
Hosay procession in St. James, Trinidad in March 2004. The
background captures Hosay in 1890 in San Fernando. Cover
design by Preddie Partap.

Prime Minister
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Indian Arrival Day Greetings

On behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
National Community as we celebrate Indian Arrival Day, 2004.

wish to extend greetings to the

It is now 159 years since the arrival of the first group of East Indian immigrants aboard the Fath AI Razak. The
subsequent evolution of the East Indian community in Trinidad and Tobago has proven to be a constructive engagement.
Our people of East Indian descent continue to make an invaluable contribution to the development of our nation, and we
are grateful for the preservation and passing on of various aspects of their traditions, cultural norms and institutions.
Appreciably, too, as with other groups among us, there have been many positive adjustments and adaptations, so much so
that after more than one and one half r: nturies our East Indian fellow citizens are as integrated as any other into all
aspects of our national life.
It is indeed remarkable and to be commended therefore, the extent to which East Indians in Trinidad and Tohago have
joined other groups, largely of immigrant background themselves, in working out a model plural society in which for the
most part our institutions are increasingly being shared and relations are growing more and more connected and positively
inextricable.
Today, rare is the citizen who does not feel or see himself or herself as part of our nation. This is not to say that there are
no challenges. Notwithstanding that these are common to groups living in plural societies, the people of Trinidad and
Tobago have long been exceptional and exemplary in the manner in which we have been forging before the world one
nation out of the disparate social elements bequeathed by our colonial experience.
The pe-ople of our beloved country have long been more united than this and we can only sell ourselves short with any
such approach, having already progressed far beyond that stage. After so many years of integration and interaction
following our various arrivals we are now at that point where our ethnic diversity, for example, should he cherished for
the colour, quality, character, resilience and strength that it can and has provided for our nation.
Let us therefore celebrate Indian Arrival Day this year as a nation in which all our people have truly come to terms with
the fact of our diversity. Let us show ourselves as a nation fully appreciative of the merits of our cosmopolitan make-up
and determined to demonstrate to the world that groups of different backgrounds can both live together and progress in
peace and harmony, on the basis of genuine understanding, appreciation, and love and respect for each other.
Does not the Ramayana exhort us as follows?
Jahaa sumatee tahaa sampatee nana.
Through unity, prosperity and progress flourishes unceasingly.

Patrick Manning

AUTHORISED DISTRIBUTOR
NO.8 Bolai Tr., I.D.C. Estate,
Chase Village, Trinidad, W.I.
Tel: (868) 672-5329/3980

Fax: (868) 672-5330
E-mail: trintrac@carib-link.net

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_

MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CULTURE AND GENDER AFFAIRS
51 - 55 FREDERICK STREET
PORT OF SPAIN
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

I bring warm greetings to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago as we commemorate Indian Arrival Day. I bring
very special greetings to the descendants of those of our citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who made that long and
perilous journey from India to Trinidad and Tobago many times from 1845 to 1917.
As I give these special greetings to our Indo-Trinidadian citizens, I wish to remind you. that your history. your
contribution is a matter of interest and importance to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. This is why [ sincerely
congratulate those who had the foresight to produce this ex~c1lent magazine.
I am especially pleased that it will be distributed in our schools. It is in the sharing of information that we will
dissipate ignorance: that ignorance that breeds fear and hostility. So that by disseminating information pertinent to the
history and contribution of our Indian brothers and sisters throughout the society. and in our schools we arc really
cementing the tolerance that still remains a hallmark of this multi-ethnic. multi-religious society. This tolerance, this
ability to live in unity, cannot ever be taken for granted. The dysfunctional of many other societies warns us. alerts us to
treasure what we have here, to guard it. and protect it. It provides really. the underpinnings of all successful
development in our society. For without it. our society will be seriously at risk.
As we learn about and celebrate our Indian brothers and sisters, let us look towards a future, in which Trinidad
and Tobago will continue to shine as an exemplar of a truly harmonious society, a society in which we will recognize
and applaud that harmony. We arc free to also celebrate our plurality, our diversity.
Happy Indian Arrival Day.

HONOURABLE MINISTER
JOAN YUILLE WILLIAMS

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TELEX NO.: 22514 mCOMIN WG.
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SMAIL: hcipos@tstt.net.tt

TRINIHC/98104

May 17, 2004
MESSAGE

I extend my heartfelt felicitations to all nationals of Trinidad & Tobago on the
occasion of the Indian Arrival Day.
This day serves to remind us of the many sacrifices made by the Indian
indentured workers who came to this country more than. 150 years. It was only
through their resilience and firm determination to strive against all odds and
hardship, that the East Indian community in this country has been able to achieve
success. The East Indian community deserves accolades for having set the highest
standards in different fields and for tremendous contribution made by it towards
multifaceted development of this beautiful country.
I am also happy to note that the members of the East Indian community have
carefully preserved the customs and traditions as well as the core Indian values
brought by their ancestors with them giving them a sense of continuing connectivity
and emotional attachment with the rich Indian cultural traditions.
This year once again, as in the previous year, the High Commission of India
would be embarking on a series of cultural and business promotion activities through
May-June to mark the indian Arrival Day celebrations in this country in a fitting
manner with the twin objective of creating greater awareness of Indian culture here
and enhancing the level of interface and friendship between our two countries. I
wish to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been associated with us in
organizing these celebrations.

(Virendra Gu

Leadership

Allantic

Ocean

Car i b b e a n
5ea

INDIA

Bqy
of
Be n'g a I

We join the rest of the nation
in celebrating Indian Arrival Day.

YOUR \NAY AHEAD
http://www.rbtt.com

E-Mail: info@tt.rbtt.com

The 1884 Hosay massacre - to die for one's culture
By Dr. Kumar Mahabir
, " never before was such a large, armed force assembled in colonial Trinidad, or the Caribbean,
at any cultural event.
On October 30th 1884, 22 Indian indentured labourers
died, and some 120 others were wounded in Trinidad's
most violent and devastating
movement since the
emancipation of the slaves in 1838. This day marked the
observance of the annual Hosay or Muharram festival of
the Indian indentured immigrants in Trinidad. Indians,
both Hindus and Muslims, were not the sole participants in
Hosay in Trinidad. Many historians who have studied the
event claim that Africans were also very much involved in
the Hosay observances. They witnessed the spectacle
firsthand, and even participated in the commemoration by
carrying large tazias on their shoulders, or playing drums
in the procession along the streets. Onthis shocking and
horrific day in 1884, the English authorities emphatically
demonstrated their determination to control Indians on the
colony by denying them what they believed was their right
to religious observance.
According to Neil Sookdeo in his book, Freedom,
Festivals and Caste in Trinidad after Slavery (2000),
Hosay in 1884 was regarded, as a "grand, island-wide,
multi-racial festival led by Indians." This ten-day religious
celebration culminates on the tenth day with a large,
spectacular street procession involving music, song, and
mock theatrical combats. The most attractive element of
the festival is the immense tazias (model mausoleums of
Muslim martyrs) which are elaborately decorated and
paraded though the streets. In the months preceding the
'Muharram Massacre' of 1884, the English had set legal
restrictions upon the observance of the festival. Hindus
and Africans were not allowed to participate in the festival,
and processions were banned from leaving the estate to
join other processions from other estates.
Many reasons have been given by various researchers
and historians for the restrictions which were placed on the
festival, but the fundamental idea which surrounds them
all remains the need for the colonists to control the new
and rapidly-growing Indian population on the island. The
laws were meant to prevent the Indian communities in
sugarcane estates across the island from consolidating.
Hosay allowed the Indians throughout the island to form a
tremendous gathering, which the colonists believed, could
at any time attack the colonial government. It has also
been argued that there was also the need to prevent the
continuance of the 'heathen' practices of these people, and
the desire to Anglicanize the Indians, which led to the
formulation of these restrictions. The colonial militia was
alerted, armed and placed at different locations across the
island to ensure that the celebration was not performed, In
_ Port of Spain, the capital,

about 40 armed policemen were stationed, and up to 80
were positioned in San Fernando (where the largest
processions on the island were usually to be found). In his
M.A. Thesis on Hosay (1984), Dr. Kenneth Parmasad
notes that never before was such a large, armed force
assembled in colonial Trinidad, or the Caribbean; at any
cultural event.
Many Indians viewed the new restrictions as a direct
infringement on their freedom to worship. Defying the
restrictions placed upon them, Indians, Hindus and
Muslims alike, from over 30 estates and villages, came
together to commemorate Hosay. Kelvin Singh's detailed
account of the occurrences of October 30th 1884 in his
book, Bloodstained Tombs (1998), reveals the horror of the
situation that took place in San Fernando that day.
In the midst of celebratory tassa drumming, singing,
and shouts of joy, came screams of shock, confusion and
terror as the authorities fired volleys of bullets at the large
procession gathered to worship at San Fernando that day.
The government had indeed kept their word to eliminate
anyone who defied their authority. They hastened to
ensure that the horrifying details of the Muharram
Massacre did not reach Colonial India.
The events of this significant day in the history of
Trinidad are known by very few people. Sadly; this day
has been overlooked in many of the texts that chronicle the
nation's experiences during colonization. Our 30,000
Hindu and Muslim foreparents who defiantly took to the
streets on October 30th 1884 to fight for their freedom to
worship, knowing that their fate could be death, have been
all but forgotten.
.
On the final day of Pitri Paksha last year, Hindu
activist, Ravi-ji, led a procession to Mon Repos San
Fernando, the site of the massacre, to commemorate the
119th anniversary of the Muharram Massacre in Trinidad.
There, offerings were made to those 22 valiant men and
women who risked all and lost their lives in order to
preserve their heritage in this new land. This initiative by
Ravi-ji and his colleagues should act as the first step in a
movement towards national recognition of these brave
martyrs' sacrifice. We have gone too long without
acknowledging
what occurred on that tragic day in
October 1884.

Dr. Kumar Mahabir is the President of the
Association of Caribbean Anthropologists (ACA).

FROM'THEIR

HEARTS

CAME

A NEW

BEG'INNING

To those who had the courage to fulfill their dreams in

a new land ...

WE THANK YOU
To those who carried the torch for a new generation ...
WE ARE FOREVER INDEBTED TO YOU

Clyyl.vQt 1::>Qy ~yeet:.l.~gs
eopte of c--r yl.~l.c:lQc:lQ~c:l c--r obQgo.

q~c:ll.c:n,"
t:.o t:.ke

1='

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--------.
GUARDIAN

~

Looking Afttr Life

GUARDIAN

GENERAL

HOLDINGS
LIMITED

J_ __

Skill
Insi~ht and
Experience
--...
•..
._---

---._-

Testimonies from court records of the 1884 Hosay massacre
Two Coolies ... on horseback from another estate carried swords. These men have been
convicted and imprisoned for inciting us to come out by saying, 'The Philippine people are all
women; if you won't take your tadjahs, we will.'
GOO TIE, a Mahometan Manetee from the Goorgoan
district, states:
I am an indentured Coolie and have been on the Usine
estate for three years. I went in the procession as one of
those who played with a fencing stick, but I carried no
other stick or arm of any sort. I had never heard the
procession was forbidden. I am employed on the engine.
The old Coolies said, 'there will be no trouble about this.
If you do not interfere with the Sahibs they will not
interfere with you.' I had not been with the procession in
former years, there was a general report that we were not
allowed to go in procession on the Queen's Road, but
some Coolies said that this was a lie. On the way down, a
sowar rode up and told us not to go down as it was
forbidden. Then the old Coolies said the Government will
not interfere with us if we do no harm, 'it looks upon us as
its children.'
I did not hear on the way down that there had been
firing in the other procession. When we came nearly at the
spot where we were stopped I saw a policeman trying to
persuade the people to stop, but I saw no gentleman doing
this. I was in the middle, playing, surrounded by Coolies.
After the first volley the old Coolies said, 'They are only
trying to frighten us, the ammunition is blank.' I was hit
myself but did not know it at the time, then I saw that men
had dropped and that I was bleeding; the Coolies then ran
away. Some of them bound up my wounds and I was put
into the police cart and taken to the hospital. Processions
went out on the two preceding nights. I went out with them
at night and then we went about two miles towards San
Fernando.
I have been at the Mahurum in India at Goorgoan. The
processions were regulated by the police. There the
processionists are not allowed to carry sticks, if they
carried them they would be taken away. In this procession
no big sticks were carried, only small fencing sticks.

GUNDUR, a Hindoo of the Ahir caste, states:
I come from near Monghir and have been for 25 years
on the Philippine Estate. On the 30th October I joined in
the procession and have always done so, although a
Hindoo. I go to join in the fun. I had heard that orders had
been issued that we were not to go on the public roads or
into San Fernando and that if we did we might be
imprisoned for six months or fined £20, but we were not
told that we would be shot. I did not believe we really

would get punished if we went. We had always been
allowed to do so before and I thought we should be
allowed to do so again this year.
When we got near San Fernando we saw the police
and soldiers drawn up. A policeman and some one else
came up and stopped us. We were shouting, 'Hosea!
Hosea!' and immediately after that we were fired upon.
Some of the wounded men fell and all the others ran away.
I was shot in the hand. I was sent to San Fernando hospital
and was there for one day.

SHEIKH WAGUR, a Mahometan states:
I come from Chupra and have been on the Philippine
Estate for 16 years. On the so" October I was in the
procession and I always go right up to the sea with the
tadjahs. I had heard about the orders concerning the
procession and I knew we were liable to a penalty of £20
or six months imprisonment for infringing them. Everyone
went and so I went too; I was in the front of the
procession. Mr. Child, the magistrate, and Gunpot, the
interpreter, told us to stop. We would not stop, but kept
shoving on shouting, 'Hosea! Hosea!' The police fired
almost immediately after Mr. Child had told us to stop. I
did not hear the magistrate give the order to fire. After the
firing the people began running away and I ran into the
cane piece. I was not hit. i carried a long stick, and have
always done so. I was about 10 or 11 when I came to
Trinidad, but I have seen processions in villages in India
where there were no police and no restrictions. Many
others carried big sticks, but I saw no cutlasses. Two
Coolies, however, on horseback from another estate
carried swords. These men have been convicted and
imprisoned for inciting us to come out by saying, 'The
Philippine people are all women; if you won't take your
tadjahs, we will.'
SJEOKH-AB-DOOLA,
states:

a Mahometan on the Usine Estate,

This is the first time I have been here during the Mahurum
procession; I accompanied it. I had heard it was forbidden
to go into San Fernando. I was in the rear of the
procession. The procession I was in went in by the north
entrance, where Captain Baker was. I was following the
procession in rear when I heard the musketry fire, the
crowd pushed back and I ran away.

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E-Mail: magicmist@ttt.net.tt

The Hosay massacre in Trinidad in 1884
By Dr. Neil A. Sookdeo
That the elites believed Indians posed a threat in 1884, unleashed the full barrage of police
power upon Indian celebrants, killing 16 on the roads and wounding well over a 100 more.
Opponents of Hosay who were acting in Christian
conscience failed to understand the vital role the festival
played in the monotonous, dreary lives of the indentured
and indenture-free Indians alike. Hosay made the year's
suffering and exile tolerable for isolated Indians. (Some,
though, perhaps not all, made a comparison between their
fate and that of the beleaguered Shi'ites. Historian Kusha
Haraksingh reminds us that Hosay was also a healthy
antidote to strained headman-labourer (or Indian-Indian)
relations. To the extent Hosay was therapeutic to various
levels of the estate labour force, the plantocracy failed to
see how they benefited from Hosay.
The authorities in Trinidad set out to prevent a
continuance of Hosay as a grand, island-wide, multi-racial
festival led by the Indians. In July 1884, with the Governor
in London, but with the connivance of the Protector of
Immigrants, an ordinance was introduced to prevent
Hindus and blacks from participating in Hosay festivities.
The idea was to reduce Hosay to a Muslim observance in
the privacy of the estates, although traditionally; the
tadjahs were deposited in a waterway. In 1884, Indians
were not seeking to do anything different from what they
had done at previous Hosays in Trinidad. Like all rules
governing indenture, they could be changed when it suited
anyone colony; in Trinidad we saw a dramatic and tragic
consequence of such unexplained changes only because a
very large group of Indians were involved.
The latest restrictions on Hosay were met with dismay
and indignation. A petition was drawn up under the
leadership of Sookoo, a headman of the Phillipine Estate.
The petition was summarily dismissed: Sookhoo was told
that Hindus had no reason to resent being excluded from
what was a Muslim festival. This idea that Muhurram was
purely Islamic was not true in undivided India in the
nineteenth century. Historian Hugh Tinker, in treating the
entire question of Indian interaction with plantocracies,
said: "It was an absolute principle" of the indenture system
that "no Indian labourer become a recognized leader. ..
Their only recognized role was that of petitioners, and
humble petitioners too." Sookhoo was being told what
Indians in India did when he had been born Indian; he may
very well have felt deeply humiliated.
The brusque treatment of their petition angered many
of Sookhoo's colleagues on the estates. A groundswell of
feeling against the unjust restrictions asserted itself among
some of these Indians. Sookhoo was reported to have
declared: "We will have no more petitions; we will fight it
out with the strength of our hands." It came exactly to that,

despite Indians having hakka sticks which were necessary
for the staged fights.
While Sookhoo displayed some leadership in 1884,
there is no evidence that he sought (or succeeded) in
convincing Indians on other estates to his point of view.
The established prestige which the Philippine Estate had
earned in previous Hosays was at stake for Sookhoo and
his brethren, but the estate management's general hostility
to the labourers precluded clear thinking. In ninteenthcentury Trinidad, where the plantation had not as yet
succeeded in destroying important non-western ways, its
elites saw a potential serious threat posed by the Indians.
The old fear of slave-masters about slave rebellions in the
thick of night was exhumed; no one rationally examined
how prepared Indians or blacks were to take over Trinidad
in the 1880s. That the elites believed Indians posed a threat
in 1884, unleashed the full barrage of police power upon
Indian celebrants, killing 16 on the roads, and wounding
well over a hundred more.
Subscribers to the Times of London read a letter from
a Trinidadian on 8 November: "About 14 or 15 were killed
and about 87 wounded, some of them will probably die
before long. The details of this atrocious massacre, as
narrated to me by trustworthy eyewitnesses, are so ghastly
that, although it took place a week ago, ever since my
sleep has been very disturbed, and my blood has been at
fever heat at the idea that such an paralleled atrocity [has
been] committed at the present day under the British flag.
The nation was stunned; Colonial Office scrambled to
prevent British India learning about the gory details; IndoTrinidadians themselves still live the trauma of that event,
generation by generation, as Hosay quietly continues to
spread its message of the dignity of the downtrodden. That
Hosay was diminished yet refused to die may be seen as a
victory for the victims of indenture, and for those who died
on the battlefield of the estates on 30 October 1884 ...
The San Fernando Gazette assumed, arrogantly as it
turns out, that Hindus had no role in Hosay: "The Hindoos
only join in the fray on the same principle and for the same
motives as the Port of Spain [Carnival] bands, to enjoy the
excitement of the day, and, too often, to payoff old
grudges. The only plan would be to forbid Hosein
processions entirely on the public roads ... Asiatics are
easily cowed .... "
Extract of the book by Neil Sookdeo Freedom, Festivals
and Caste in Trinidad after Slavery (2000). Published by
Xlibris Corporation. Website: www.Xlibriscom

BGTRINIDAD
8cTOBAGO

Happy Indian Arrival Day
from BG Trinidad & Tobago

A~toc",o SO,l/ico·s
!!!!!IIi2.4~TOdd Street,

g Accossol'ios

EI Socorro Road, San Juan

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Protesting Indentured Indian women
By Moses Seenarine

Some were actively resistiIig various forms of domiIiation through emigration, and most
engaged in resistance on the estates.
Historical materials relating to Indian women under
colonialism in Guyana is extremely rare and inadequate.
This problem is complicated by the fact that until recently,
research on the Caribbean has focused on a predominantly
male model of a plural society divided by race, gender and
assumptions of "cultural persistence" and similarity within
ethnic categories. It is true that Guyanese society is
divided by race. Nevertheless,
gender and cultural
categories need to be viewed not only as part of race, but
also in relation to issues of power and dominance in the
region.

The central argument pursued in this article is
that South Asian indentured emigration had diverse
effects on the population in Guyana based on issues of
gender, culture, class, caste, race, location and age. This
paper explores how some of these processes occurred
with
relevance
to women
during
recruitment,
migration
and the indenture
period (1838-1917).
Indenture means a contract, and indentured Indians
signed a contract before they left India, which bound
them to accept certain conditions. During their period of
indenture, female laborers were not free.
This article - extracted from the book Sojourners to
Settlers (1999), edited by Mahin Gosine and Dhanpaul
Narine - disputes the myth that the shortage of Indian
women on colonial plantations during the early period
of indenture resulted in an improved status and mobility
for the majority of South Asian wqmen, relative to that in
India. This myth ignores women's subjection to control
under various forms of male domination and oppression
during the early period, including violence and abuse.
Further. it is argued that the process of male control
intensified during the later indenture period. In both
periods, the triple burdens of wage work, childcare, and
housework were excessive for most women who had to
work harder to fashion a new life for themselves and their
families in colonial Guyana.
This article explores
some of the genderedoutcomes of being a South Asian migrant labourer in
Guyana by examining the contributing factors that made
women's experiences
different,
in particular
what
occurred in relation to labor, culture and caste. Gender
refers to the culturally defined modes of behavior deemed
appropriate to the sexes. The paper is loosely organized
ascording to the history of indentureship,
and divided
into four broad areas that contributed to making women's

experiences different: (i) social and economic factors,
(ii) culture, (iii) family aspects, and (iv) women's resistance to various structures of power, authority and
control.
To provide some background, the paper starts with a
brief note regarding colonization and slavery in Guyana,
followed by a short discussion on the methods and
concepts used in the paper, and an outline of the.
paper's limitations. A breakdown of caste, class and
gender distribution of South Asians in Guyana comes
next, followed by a brief summary of the position and
status of women in colonial and present day India. This
background provides a context for discussion of issues
within the main body of the paper.
Starting with a discussion on recruitment of Indian
women to labor colonies, the causes of indentured Indian
emigration to Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean are then
explored. A short description of the caste and class status
of female indentured emigrants follow, along with an
exploration of their experiences at the emigration depot
and during their voyage to the Caribbean. This is
presented as a way of delving into a major factor of
difference among the indentured population, the shortage
of Indian women compared to Indian men, and its
consequences.
Throughout
the indenture period, the
population of East Indian females was less than half the
population of Indian men in the colony.
The women who emigrated were not passive or
"docile coolies" Some were actively resisting various
forms of domination through emigration, and most
engaged in resistance on the estates. Murders and
transfers of many Indian women on the estates was a sign
of their resistance' to oppression by South Asian men,
families and cultures in the colony. Women also resisted
exploitation as cheap laborers, and being treated as
sexual objects, by European men. A claim is made that
women's sexual exploitation was a contributing factor to
South Asian resistance movements on the plantations
throughout the indenture period. As a result, during the
later period of indenture, the importation of Indian
females into the colony was viewed mainly in terms of
them having a stabilizing effect on the predominantly
male labor force.
J

Moses Seenarine is a professor of Caribbean history
at Hunter College, City University of New York.

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I NEW BOOK RELEASE
Simbhoonath Capildeo
He was for his day, the single intellectual genius of Hindu Trinidad ... He laid the foundation of
the most powerful Hindu organization in the history of Trinidad ... _
Simboonath Capildeo: Lion of the Legislative Council,
Father of Hindu Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago.
By Darius Figueira
263 pages. 2003.
London: iUniverse, Inc

It supine state. He was for his day, the single intellectual
genius of Hindu Trinidad. He laid the foundation of the
most powerful Hindu organization in the history of Trinidad and simultaneously
prepared the way for the
Hindu society attempting to put spine, bone and muscle in
evolution of the Hindu politician. His recorded speeches
The book is a deconstruction of the political discourse
- in Hansard demonstrate the breadth, width and depth
of Simbhoonath Capildeo the progenitor of Hindu
of his vision and thinking, but there is an untold story
nationalist discourse in Trinidad and Tobago.
of what provoked Simbhoonath into action.
Capildeo's Hindu nationalism is premised _upon .a
It was crop time, early thirties Simbhoonath was a young
rootedness in Trinidad and Tobago, a fervent praxis
cane farmer. Perched on his bison cart loaded with cane
premised on bhakti (devotion) towards rating a discourse
Simbhoonath was ambling down the narrow, dusty
of Sanatan Dharma that was relevant to life in the west as aChaguanas Main Road on his way home to the Lion House,
Hindu that was sustainable, and finally a political praxis
one foot dangling, the other propped on the cart, hat askew
that was demonstrably anti-racist and egalitarian in the
on his head, a blade of grass twirling between his lips.
tradition of democratic socialism.
Simbhoonath was a typical cane farmer doomed to the bitter
life of sweet sugar. Suddenly, there was a noise of what was
unmistakably a motorcar, a rarity on the main road at this
Such is the poverty of intellect and the paucity of
time. The noise grew closer, and he looked up. To his
recorded history in primitive papier-mache educational
surprise, the car stopped in front of the Lion House.
institutes of Trinidad that there is no history of the man
Sitnbhoonath reigned in the bison, spat out the grass and
who was and is the crucible of orthodox Hinduism in
straightened his hat. A fair young Indian man had alighted
Trinidad.
from the car and was leaning on the door looking at the cart.
Few, if there are any alive know that Simbhoonath
Is that you Simbhoo?
Capildeo was the second of three sons born to Pundit
The young man was Dalchant Harripersad Sinanan
Capildeo and his wife Soogie of Main Road, Chaguanas.
(Dixee), a classmate at Naparima College, recently returned
The first son Omkar died in his infancy and Simbhoonath,
from studying medicine. in Ireland. The cane farm world of
the second assumed elder son status. The youngest was
Simbhoonath went up in flames. He who had a full
Rudranath. How would have Trinidad reacted to three
Cambridge Certificate with distinctions, had the distinction
Capildeo brothers is left to the imagination. Simbhoonath
of driving a bison cart. He went to Soogie. He wanted out was born in 1914. His father, Pundit Capildeo left for India in
a Profession, a University, anything but cane. Soogie did
1926 after building what is the authentic statement of the
not have the wherewithal, but she suggested as a temporary
Indian indentured immigrant in Trinidad, the Lion House
measure that he take up where his father left - become a
(website thelionhouse.com) on the Main Road, Chaguanas.
pundit. In desperation, Simbhoonath agreed. The first puja
At age 12, Simbhoonath became the patriarch of
was easily arranged and it seemed as if the whole of
Capildeo clan, the scion of Lion House. Although guided by
Chaguanas came to hear him recite the sacred scriptures He
his mother Soogie, Simbhoonath was essentially self-taught.
did not disappoint, he was word-perfect, and murmurs of
Although fluent in Hindi and Sanskrit, encyclopaedic in the
approval greeted him. After all, it was Pundit Capildeo's
knowledge of Hinduism and its rituals, Simboonath was
son reciting. Simbhoonath looked forward to receiving his
also conversant with the great philosophers of western
first payment as a pundit. This was the new beginning; soon
civilization. His greed for books has been immortalized in
he too would be in a car.
V.S. Naipaul's, his nephew, Mystic Masseur. In a nine-line
When it was over, he discreetly looked at the tariah.
biographical sketch of Simbhoonath
in The Indian
Then he looked all over. There were five copper pieces on the
Centenary Review 1845-1945 his hobby is listed as
brass plate. His fee was the grand sum of five cents (a days
Reading.
wage at that time was 24 cents). Eventually Simbhoonath was
He rapidly assumed intellectual leadership of an
articled to a San Fernando Solicitor Irwin Cameron and
impoverished Hindu Society and from an early age,
passed his finals as a Solicitor and Conveyancer in 1943.
beginning in 1928, he set about creating the structure of

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Indians in football
By Satnarayan Jaggemauth H.B.M
There was no Indian player in first-class football in the city then, but in South there were many:
Ahamad Charles (Forest Reserve), H. Balladin (Carlton), M. Ali, the Hassanali brothers (Spitfire);
the Phillip brothers, and B. Siboo ...
There were few Indians in football in the early days of
the game, and then there were a few hundred. This opinion
is unofficial, and is just the view of our football
correspondent who thinks that the best Indian soccer
eleven that could have been put on the field were Esau
Mohammed (East St. George); M. Ali. S. Lokhoor (South) M.
Dookie (City), Ahamed Charles (Forest Reserve). L.
Jaggernauth (South): K. Jaggernauth (City), P. Khalu,
(South), B. Goolcharan (City), N. Asgarali (City), and H.
Balladin (South). This team had been selected from
performances of players in North-South Indian matches,
Indian - Chinese matches and the Indian League games of
recent dates.
East Indians with the exception of Ahamad Charles,
who had represented the colony in British Guiana,
Barbados, and at home, had not made any spectacular mark
in Trinidad football. An all - East Indian combination
called Invincible played in the TA.F.A second-class
competition in the 1930s and with such players as Norman
and Bernard Sookrarn. Manie Dookie, Aurthur Dymally,
Bernard Goolcharan, Sonny Cassy, Eric Morgan and
Robert Stephens carried off the Governor Wilson Cup.
Here and there, has been a good Indian player, but chiefly
because there has been no organised Indian soccer until last
year to help the standard of play, no real player of class
except Charles, has been unearthed.
There was no Indian player in first-class football in the
city then, .but in South there were many: Ahamad Charles
(Forest Reserve), H. Balladin (Carlton), M. Ali, the Hassanali
brothers (Spitfire); the Phillip brothers, and B. Siboo, who
lined up for the now defunct Commandos outfit, S.
Lookhoor, L. Jaggernauth and T Sahadat (Naparima) and P.
Khalu (St. Benedicts).
East Indians started their North and South Soccer
series in 1943, and it was continued in 1944, but due to the
death of Mr. Joseph Phillips, who always took a keen
interest in Indian sports, and particularly this fixture, the
1945 game was postponed. Just before his death Mr. Phillip
offered a cup to be contested between these two bodies, and
it has been decided now to call that trophy the "Joseph
Phillip Indian Centenary 1945 Football Cup."
Of the two games contested, South won the first and
North the other. In 1943 South beat the Port of Spain
combination by three goals to one at Skinners Park, due
chiefly to a brilliant display by Ahamad Charles, who
smashed home two goals, while Balladin netted the other for
the winners; Bernard Goolcharan scored the lone North
goal. The second fixture was played on Casual Ground,

Queen's Park Savannah in 1944, and North returned the
compliments to the visitors, also winning 3 - 1. B.
Goolcharan, C. Smith and Nyron Asgaralli were the goal
scorers for the city team while F. Hassanali found the nets
for the Southerners.
The IRC "A" team won the "A" division by a
comfortable margin, unbeaten in five games with a total of
26 goals for and 5 against. In the final of the "B" division
Tailors Combine lost a thrilling game by one goal to none to
Vallots while Australian Youths put up a splendid show
against I.R.c. in the "A" division, but lost by 2 goals to 1.
A review of the performances of some of the players
in the league resulted in Bernard Goolcharan of the I.R.c.
"A" team winning the goal average with 11 goals to his
credit and next in order are Boysie Williams of Tailors
Combine with 9, Latchman Jaggernauth of Tailors
Combine with 8, S. Taylor of Australian Youths with 7,
F.B. Singh of Young Destroyers with 6, R. Ramcharan of
Young Destroyers 5, S. Maraj of Australian Youths with 4,
and L. Joseph, N. Asgaralli and T Stephens of I.R.c. with 4
each. Helping Vallots to their victory were the McKenzie
brothers, Sammy, Samnadda, Errol and C. Williams. Heavy
scoring came from Australian Youths, who beat I.R.c. "B"
10 goals to none; Young Destroyers who whipped St. James
Indians 10-1; I.R.c. "A" who scored 9 against Rosehill's 12
and 8 against National's 1: Tailors Combine 7 against
National's 1: Tailors Combined against India Club's 2, and
7 against St. James Indians' nil.
Other brilliant performances came from C. Sullet, M.
Maynard, F. Khan, S.M. Ali, C. Smith, S. Akal. M. Dookie,
G. Guppy, D. Williams, K. Jaggernauth, H. Akal, KawaI
Maraj, D. Williams, H. Ramcharan, H. Bedeshi, R. Ali,
M. Williams, C. Lewis, and R. Francis, while according
to their performances in the various engagements a team
of those who have exceptional promise are H. Ramcharan,
Young Destroyers;
H. Mitchell, National; Boodoo,
Tailors, Combined; Lionel Howard, I.R.c. - "B," Wilton,
Vallots, Henry, Bedeshi, Chambalsingh,
St. James
Indians. Victor Goolcharan,
I.R.C "B," H. Griffith,
Australian Youths: Boysie Beharry, Australian Youths and
Roy Ali, National.
This has really been a selection from boys who have
played and the majority of them are below twenty years.
Most of the popular footballers when they retired turned
their attention to being referees of the game.
Satnarayan Jaggernauth is the author
of the book Indians in Sports (1900 - 1945).

Ono

hunded and lifbJ- nino !pes a[p, tho liestgroup
ot Cast Indians came to Trinidad, bringing with them
their own uni9ue culture .

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Discover your Indian roots
By Satish Rai
Slowly the descendents of brave Indians, who left India but were not able to return to their
families, are completing the journeys on their behalf: by returning to their villages after 100odd long years.
The concept of Discover Your Indian Roots was first
developed in 1994 by Satish Rai after his return to his
home in London from India. In this trip Satish Rai hoped
to locate the roots of his paternal grand parents in the
district of Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Satish had
gone to UP armed with some information which he had
managed to obtain from his uncle (father's elder
brother).
His trip took him up to Lucknow and Basti. But as a
first-time visitor to India. he came up with a number of
difficulties. mainly due to unfamiliarity with the area,
lack of knowledge of assistance and services available.
and companionship of a familiar person. After several
days he returned to Delhi, without even getting close to
his ancestral village.
Upon his returned to London his failure in Uttar
Pradesh inspired him to write a paper 'Discover Your
Indian Roots' in which he outlined the benefits India.
especially Uttar Pradesh, could get if the central
government of India and the State government of Uttar
Pradesh (as well as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh), could
get if they assisted the descendents of indentured
Indians. (some I million of them were taken to European
plantations from 1838-1916), to trace their roots and visit
their ancestral roots in India. Today some 10 million
descendants of Indentured Indian labourers live outside
India.
In 1995 Satish Rai made another visit to India but
was unsuccessful in getting near to his ancestral village
once again. He posted information to the central Indian
Govermnent for valuable assistance. The eight-day
information session provided leads on tracing Indian
roots to over 800 people and was able to trace roots of
over 80 people. The support provided officers of India
Tourism. Sydney, the local media, the organisers of
India Week, and the national Archives in Fiji was great,
and contributed enormously to the success of Milaap
information project.
Encouraged by the success, Milaap hopes to return
to Fiji later in the year to assist thousands of others who
wish to trace their ancestral villages in India. Milaap also
plans to hold information days in Sydney, Brisbane,
Melbourne and Auckland.
However. the next project of Milaap was another
documentary film shoot in India. The project started on
11th September and finished on 29th September 2003.
The documentary shoot consisted of documentation of
visits of several Indo-Fijians to their ancestral villages in
Rajasthan, Basti, Balrampur and Jabalpur. It also docu-

mented interviews with UP government officers. serviceproviders and opinion-makers. The team will also try to
trace villages of some 80 indentured Indians whose
immigration passes were extracted during Milaap week
in Fiji. Visits to villages found were also to be
documented. Government and the State government of
Uttar Pradesh in 1995, Satish Rai migrated from UK to
live in Sydney Australia. While living in Sydney, he
promoted Discover Your Indian Roots via local Indian
media.
In 1999 while planning his third visit to India he
searched the net to get further information about Uttar
Pradesh. During this search he came across Uttar
Pradesh Tourist web site. which advertised Discover
Your Roots Project. A great coincidence, he thought and
sent an e-mail to the project. Contact was eventually
made and Satish Rai went to India to shoot footage for
his documentary, which he named 'Milaap - Discover
Your Indian Roots.' This documentary followed the visit
of former Fijian senator Asha Singh to her maternal and
paternal grandparent's homes in Uttar Pradesh. It also
featured interviews with officers of UP government's
Discover Your Roots Project and visits to several
villages in Rae Bariely, Gorakhpur and Basti from where
people had migrated to Fiji, Guyana and Surinam during
the indenture period. The fmal part of the documentary
took Satish to Balrampur, where he documented his
interview with local press regarding his search for his
grandparent's village. Subsequently he learned from
contacts in Balrampur that his grand mother's village
had been traced.
The documentary was shown in Sydney and in 2003
it was shown in Fiji during the India Week, which was
held in August in Suva. During the India Week. Satish
Rai provided information on Milaap - Discover Your
Indian Roots - sharing booth with the India TourismSydney - its staff provided a documentary which
featured Fiji's popular opinion maker Thakur Ranjit
Singh, who is a great supporter of the Milaap project.
The documentary will be ready for launch in Fiji during
the next Milaap sessions in Fiji.
From its small start in London in 1994, Discover
Your Indian Roots is becoming a popular project. So far
it has managed to provide information to some 1000
people about tracing the roots of their forefathers in India
If you need more information about Milaap - Discover
Your Roots Project, or the documentary film, contact
Satish Rai via email: rai2@iprimus.com.au.

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I

poem

I dream't of Caroni
By Khem Harrinarine
I dream't of the lush green stalks waving in Caroni,
A rice land filled with beautiful memories.

Guns are the weapons of choice,
Used every day to silence our neighbour's voice.

The ladies all dressed for the harvest season,
Grassknives cutting the stalks with every reason.

Yet still, the government and Amnesty says nothing,
Surely this individual's life must worth something.

Soon the Christmas breeze will fill our land,
The holiday season and parang!
Children busy in the schools preparing for exams,
Discussing with their friends holiday plans.
Land of grace and beauty sublime,
A place now without a reason without

When will this tragedy end,
Mortal man cannot comprehend.
The saddened face of the children, tells a story,
Of pain, anguish and an endless misery.

a rhyme.

My dream changed into a nightmare,
As 1 looked into my people eyes I noticed their fears.
The tortured grip of a visionless movement,
Propel the nation into decadence.
Wasted resources, wasted minds, futile plans,
Abandoned and lost in this fair land.

A father, a mother, a brother, a sister gone forever,
Their future determined by an evil murderer.
Voices echo across the nation's homes,
The unbearable pain of loved ones groan.
The tyranny of an evil society locked in racial ignorance,
Why, oh why, after all we never intended this existence.
The gift of life was determined for all,
Until the day when our number is called.

Awaken from my slumber,
I stared at the clock's number!
T'was past midnight and the dawn soon approaching,
I thought of the sugar cane fields gone forever.
The majestic Caroni plains cleared of sugar,
Housing development started by "massa."
Changes that grip the workers heart,
As their life gets a new strange start.
The songs of Caroni whistling
Has now forever ceasedl!

Thousands cut down in a bloody discourse,
Death devours with no remorse.

When will the violence stop,
This evil started by a wicked despot.
This government has become indifferent to pain,
The blood of Jahaji's across Guyana has stained.
Who will hear our cry, who will hear our voices
Tomorrow an evil gunman will make his choices .....
Arise oh Jahajis and defend your families,
Stop the evil gang from their vengeful hate.

in the breeze,

Tribute to fallen Jahajis [brothers].
A sudden end, a heartless kill,
Another Jahaji on the ground lay still.
His only "crime" was his heritage,
As the gunman took advantage.

Khem Harrinarine lives in Penal, Trinidad.

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Bombay goes to Broadway
Bombay Dreams comes at a time when interest in all things Indian is soaring. From authors
such as Pulitzer Prize winner Jumper Lahiri, whose novel The Namesake became a best
seller late last year, to the drum-heavy bhangra dance music of Punjabi Me to films like
Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding and the teen soccer hit Bend It Like Beckham, Indian
culture seems to be finding an appreciative audience in the United States.
BOMBAY DREAMS, the successful London musical
centered on India's film industry, arrived April 29 at the
Broadway Theatre. With its young, largely unknown,
predominantly
South Asian cast and music by one of
India's most famous and prolific composers, the show's
producers hoped to entice audiences with the promise of a
new expenence.
Still.
with
its glitzy
costumes,
over-the-top
production numbers and rags-to-riches
story, those
behind Bombay Dreams say it also has a touch of the
familiar: The show is reminiscent of Broadway musicals of
the I930s and I940s.
"It harks way back to the old days of things like the
Ziegfeld Follies .... It's showmanship.
It's a spectacle
and it's fun," said Thomas Meehan, the Tony awardwinning writer of Annie, The Producers and Hairspray,
Meehan collaborated on the book with original author
Meera Syal for the show's New York run.
Bombay Dreams comes at a time when interest in all
things Indian is soaring. From authors such as Pulitzer
Prize
winner
Jumper
Lahiri,
whose novel The
Namesake became a best seller late last year, to the
drum-heavy
bhangra dance music of Punjabi MC to
films like Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding and the teen
soccer.hit
Bend It Like Beckham, Indian culture seems
to be finding an appreciative audience in the United
States.
"There is a sense that the US is now more receptive to
Indian popular culture than it has been in the past," said
Radha Welt Vatsal, who programmes Cinema India! - a
touring Indian film festival. Her festival, in its second
year to traveling around the country. has already
expanded from four sites to nine this year.
Set in the city that is also known as Mumbai,
Bombay Dreams tells the story of a poor young man
who dreams of being a Bollywood star.
Bollywood is India" s film industry, which chums
out more than 900 movies every year. Most Bollywood
productions have elaborate song-and-dance
numbers
and some sort of heavy-duty,
tear-jerking emotional
conflict.
The London version of the musical, which opened in
June 2002. was the brainchild of composer-producer

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Indian movie director Shekhar
Kapur. Lloyd Webber enlisted the musical aid of AR
Rahman, who has scored many Bollywood films. The
Bombay Dreams score includes Rahman's hit, "Chaiyya
Chaiyya," from the 1998 movie Dil Se.
Despite mixed reviews, the show has been a hit in
London, which inspired the move to Broadway.
But
producers knew that the production would need to change
in its cross-Atlantic trip.
In London, where there is a much deeper recognition
of Indian culture, the show poked some fun at Bollywood
conventions with its central plot and side stories, and it
assumed that the audience would have a certain familiarity
with the genre.
That approach was not considered workable in the
US, where Bollywood isn't quite as familiar, Syal said.
So the story was pared down to focus on the struggle of
the hero, some songs were added and the book changed.
The result, according to producer, Elizabeth Williams, is
something both new and old.
"This story is of the hero who has a dream, is tested.
loses that dream and reclaims it in the end, "she said.
"It's the arschetypal
story."
But unlike other works on Broadway. which are a
range of revived shows, star-driven vehicles or centered
on familiar music, the Bombay Dreams production '''is a
blast of fresh air in terms of the music." Syal said.
Lloyd Webber liked the changes so much that the
London production is shutting down in June and will be
revised along the lines of the American show before
reopening in another theatre in 2005.
The producers are making a big financial bet on a
successful outcome in New York. Williams said about $14
million had been put into Bombay Dreams. which has
weekly costs of about $500,000.
But there have
already been at least $6 million in advance sales.

Associated Press, New York. April 23, 2004.

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The Islamic realities of the Muharram Massacre of 1884
By Daurius Figueira
In the aftermath of the massacre of 1884, Shia Islam retreated from the public view, and in fact
became an esoteric practice in Trinbago until the 1970s where it resurfaced, prodded by the
Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran.
The Shia Muslims of India created, via their annual
remembrances of the martyrdom of the grandson of
Prophet Muhammed (uwbp) during the first month of the
Islamic calendar, Muharram, the syncretic processions of
Muharram. These processions during the month of
Muharram were structured events in which the Shia gave
space to non-Muslim participants such as the Hindu
women who were childless and the dervishes who were
outside the pale of mainstream Islam. What was also
noteworthy of the Shia Muharram processions in India was
the presence of sections of the procession bent on
parodying the colonial Raj and the elements of the Indian
comprador elites who were the vassals of English colonial
domination.
The decade of the 1880s in the colonial history of
Trinidad was one of resistance and armed engagement
with the colonial power over the repeated moves to destroy
cultural expressions of resistance which were expressed
via processions in the streets of the colony of Trinidad.
The white colonial power moved to destroy the
Camboulay procession in memory of the end of African
enslavement in Trinidad. The colonial state in the 1880s
moved to destroy the Muharram procession for the clear
and present danger that the Muharram
procession
constituted to the colonial state. East Indian indentured
labour unrest especially on specific plantations on the
plains of Naparima raised the concern of sections of the
society that saw the clear and present danger of East Indian
indentured unrest on the plantations and the threat to
colonial civilization by less than civilized "Hindoo brutes."
Both white planters and Afro-Trinidadian
interests
sounded the early warning of the clear and present danger
of the "Hindoo brutes" running riot. It was then simply a
matter of logical progression for these interests to call for
the prohibition of the Muharram procession. For it was the
premier annual event when indentured labourers of various
estates merged into a stream of shouting, jumping,
chanting less than civilized "coolies" marching through
San Fernando to the sea.
What intensified the fear that was evoked with the
procession of semi-civilized brutes through San Fernando
to the Gulf of Paria in the minds of the colonials were the
lessons the English colonial Raj learned from the Indian
Mutiny of 1857. There was then an abiding fear of the
Islamic base of the Muharram procession which was
worsened by the inclusive syncretic nature of the
procession. This morbid abiding fear of Islam would then
convince the English colonials of Trinidad that they must

fire upon the Muharram procession of. 1884. The very
same colonial state refused to fire upon the Camboulay
procession instead choosing to engage the people of the
Camboulay in hand to hand combat with the bois as the
extension of the arm. This colonial strategy was then the
most potent indication of the potency of the Muharram
procession as presenting the most potent and present
danger in the minds of the colonial officials in the colony
of Trinidad in the 1880s.
In the lead up to October 1884, the Sunni line of Islam
would petition the colonial governor to ban the Muharram
procession. The Sunni petitioners insisted to the kafirun
(unbelievers) that the Shia and the Muharram procession
were outside the pale of Islam and therefore shirk.
Moreover the Sunni petitioners insisted that the Shia
procession gave decent and law abiding Sunni Muslims
subjects of the British Empire a bad name. The Sunni
Muslims now joined the kafirun interests in calling for the
destruction of the Muharram, which simply legitimised the
decision of the colonial state to end once and for all the
most concerted and potential threat to the colonial order
posed by Indian indentured labour in the history of Indian
indentureship in Trinidad 1845-1917.
On that fateful day in October 1884 the main
procession heading to the Gulf of Paria through San
Fernando was fired upon and scattered. In 1885 and
thereafter the colonial power made it abundantly clear that
Muharram processions would again be fired upon. In the
aftermath of the massacre of 1884, Shia Islam retreated
from the public view, and in fact became an esoteric
practice in Trinbago until the 1970s where it resurfaced,
prodded by the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran. Sunni
Islam reaped the benefits of October 1884 settling for a
subservient existence vis-a-vis the colonial state and a
drive for hegemony over the Indo-Trinbagonian population
through their dance with the P..NMsince 1956. Sunni Islam
would since 1884 pursue the elusive holy grail of
enmeshing the Hindu population of Trinbago in a danse
macabre premised upon Sunni political leadership over the
Hindu population of Trinbago clearly seen in the PNM of
1956-1986 and the UNC 1995-2001. It is intensely
noteworthy that among the earliest prominent leaders of
Sunni Islam in Trinidad were practitioners of Sufi Islam
noted for their accommodation with the kafir colonial state
and their unrelenting assault on Shia Islam.
Daurius Figueira is a Ph.D. candidate in the
Department of Government at UWl, St. Augustine.

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The clash of cultures in Trinidad
By Parsuram Maharaj
The Maha Sabha has been advocating the need to replace the Ministry of Culture with a moreinclusive Ministry of Multiculturalism ... The Canadian model is worthy of examination.
The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) in Trinidad
has long held that culture forms an integral component in
the development of a people and a nation. Indeed, in the
book Culture Matters, its editors, Lawrence E. Harrison
and Samuel P. Huntington address a difficult question: Are
some cultures better than others at creating freedom,
prosperity and justice, and answers in the affirmative.
Editor Harrison, who pens the book's concluding essay,
states that culture, "offers an important insight into why
some countries and ethniclreligious groups have done
better than others, not just in economic terms but also with
respect to consolidation of democratic institutions and
social justice." Culture in Trinidad along with the politics
of discrimination is perhaps the single most influential
factor that contributes to the disharmony within the nation.
Indeed, Samuel P. Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations"
observed that, "cultural characteristics and differences are
less mutable and hence less easily compromised and
resolved than political and economic ones." The SDMS,
for the past two to three decades, has been advocating the
need to replace the Ministry of Culture with a moreinclusive Ministry of Multiculturalism.
Lord Bhikhu Parekh, in the paper, "What is multiculturalism?" states that "multiculturalism is best understood ... as a perspective on, or a way of viewing, human
life. lts central insights are three. First, human beings are
culturally embedded in the sense that they grow up and
live within a culturally structured world and organize their
lives and social relations in terms of a culturally derived
system of meaning and significance. Second, different
cultures represent different systems of meaning and
visions of the good life. Third, every culture is internally
plural and reflects a continuing conversation between its
different traditions and strands of thought." Parekh also
gives the possible reason for the resistance to the SDMS's
lobby for Ministry of Multiculturalism when he states:
"The dominant group generally
welcomes
neither,
recognition not given willingly as a gift or an act of grace.
It needs to be fought for and involves a cultural and
political contestation and sometimes even violence as
Hegel stressed in his analysis of the dialectic of
recognition and which Taylor's sanitized version of it
ignores."
To this end, the SDMS dedicated resources and
personnel to studying Multiculturalism models across the
globe. Of the models studied, the Canadian Model has
been found to be one worth studying with the objective of
adapting it to Trinidad society. In 1971, Canada was the
first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an

official policy. By so doing, Canada affirmed the value
and dignity of all Canadian citizens regardless of their
racial or ethnic origins, their language. or their religious
affiliation. The Canadian Multiculturalism State policy is
worthy of further exam ination.
The Canadian Multiculturalism policy clearly states
that the Government of Canada (a) recognize and promote
the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural
and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges
the freedom of all members of Canadian society to
preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage; (b)
recognize
and
promote
the
understanding
that
multiculturalism
is a fundamental characteristic of the
Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an
invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada's future; (c)
promote the full and equitable participation of individuals
and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution
and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society, and assist
them in the elimination of any barrier to that participation;
(d) recognize the existence of communities
whose
members share a common origin, and their historic
contribution to Canadian society, and enhance their
development; (e) ensure that all individuals receive equal
treatment and equal protection under the law, while
respecting and valuing their diversity; (f) encourage and
assist the social, cultural, economic
and political
institutions of Canada to be both respectful and inclusive
of Canada's multicultural character; (g) promote the
understanding and creativity that arise from the interaction
between individuals and communities of different origins;
(h) foster the recognition and appreciation of the diverse
cultures of Canadian society and promote the reflection
and the evolving expressions of those cultures; (i) preserve
and enhance the use of languages other than English and
French, while strengthening the status and use of the
official languages of Canada; and U) advance multiculturalism throughout Canada in harmony with the
national commitment to the official languages of Canada.
Lord Bhikhu Parekh, however, hauntingly reminds us
that, "Although equal citizenship is essential to fostering a
common sense of belonging, it is not enough. Citizenship
is about statu's and rights; belonging is about acceptance,
feeling welcome, a sense of identification. The two do not
necessarily coincide. One might enjoy all the rights of
citizenship but feel that one does not quite belong to the
community and is a relative outsider ... "

Parsuram Maharaj is a Newsday columnist.

To

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GENERATION To

THE

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Make May Indian History Month
By Raviji
Many visiting foreigners are still shocked to see so
many Indians and samples of Indian culture in the Caribbean.
The 159th Anniversary of the arrival of the first batch
of Indian indentured labourers (1845) and the seventh
anni versary of Indian Arrival Day, May 30, are fast
approaching.
Over the past 20 years, Indian Arrival has become a
popular day for Indians to commemorate. In fact, it
became so popular that public functions had to take place
on successive weekends preceding May 30. It often spilled
over into June. Unconsciously, May was staked out as a
month-long commemoration of the Indian presence in
T&T.
But there are other historical reasons why May has
significance for Indians in the Caribbean. May provided
for the Indian community in 1945 a month-long period of
intense community activity to produce a massive rally of
Indians at Skinner Park. It provided a landmark day for
Indians in the Diaspora during colonialism to dream, plan,
organize, assemble, publish, envision, reflect, and to
express themselves and exercise leadership. Many an
initiative was spawned in the wake of May 1945.
May, as Indian History and Heritage Month, also
provides a common platform for all Indians in the
Caribbean to bring focus on Indian Heritage. In fact, May
holds historical value to most of the Caribbean as Indians
first came to the Caribbean in May: Guyana - May 1838,
Hesparus and Whitby; Trinidad - May 30, Fatel Rozack;
Jamaica - May 1845. Suriname missed May by a few days.
May in the centenary year, was 61 years after October
30, 1884, the date of the infamous Jahaajee Massacre at
Balidaan Tolaa in San Fernando on the occasion of
Maharram. It was an occasion of great community spirit
and inter-religious unity. Out of 22 jahaajees who were
shot dead by the police during the religious precession,
only four were Muslims. The majority who died were
Hindus.
One could understand how much the month of May
would have meant to Indians in 1945. Not too far away
from Balidaan Tolaa is Skinner Park where Indians would
again assemble in large numbers. Within a 10-mile radius
lay "over 30 villages" from whichjahaajees were drawn to
the fatal procession and from whom blood would be drawn
in sacrifice at Balidaan Tolaa.
The story would have been recited of Bal Gopal Singh,
who jumped on a horse, wielding a sword, and crashed
through the gates of Philipine Estate to let the jahaajees
join the procession. How much would Balidaan Tolaa
make for deep reflection of the citizens of T&T? Would
we just drink wine, wave yuh hand and "mash up de place"
on Indian Arrival Day?

Nyla Marajh, who inaugurated May Indian History
and Heritage Month in 2004 said that the Indian
community should create smaller educational and sankaar
-oriented events in the communities,
and seek out
researchers in the field of Indian heritage such as Ken
Permasad, Kelvin Singh, Brinsley Samaroo and Kumar
Mahabir.
After 150 years, the education system in Trinidad and
the wider Caribbean still ignores it. In a time when the
Caribbean is challenged to make the region an attractive
destination, we are still playing games with the culture of
the region. Many visiting foreigners are still shocked to see
so many Indians and samples of Indian culture in the
Caribbean. Does the region have a common purpose in
making the Indian community a Cinderella society?
Nobody is going to wave a magic wand and turn a
koharaa into a chariot and choochaa into horses for
Indians to attend the royal ball. We have to discard our
aversion to chamaar and make we own jootaa, otherwise
we will continue to walk barefooted. Or will we continue
to sing "Mere jootaa hai japaanee, patloon Inglisthaani."!
Indians must therefore shape Mayas
a month for
educating the community on our history and the wide
scope of our heritage. The Kendra has, over a decade,
adopted Mayas a month-long opportunity for this purpose.
The Kendra's theme for 2004 is 'Milk ki Jai, an interactive
series through which community elders will pass on
knowledge and skills of our milk heritage to the younger
generation.
'
On Sunday, children learnt milk-based traditional
medicine, kaarhaa and sweet-peraa. There will be a sale
of all the products made by the children to help with Baal
Ramdila later this year.
The Kendra is also participating in an international
project in association with Antal' Raashetreeya Sahayog
Parished
(International
Society
for
Cooperation).
The project will assist 100 families to trace their roots
in India.
I

Ravi ji is a cultural activist and Guardian columnist
Interested parties may apply to "Roots In India,"
The Kendra, Jilibia Trace, Raghunanan Road, Enterprise.
Phone/Fax 665-4270, 4103. E-mail: ravji@carib-link.net

They Came

They Saw

They Committed ...

In 1845 the first ships sailed into
Trinidad bringing the first Indentured
Labourers from India.
What they saw was a land not only
rich in soil content, but also rich in
potential.
And though they wore many faces,
they had one common goal, to make
this country their home. Now,
because of their undying
commitment, they've been able to
leave their mark on every aspect of
our culture, religion and politics.

EstabJlshed 1985

I poem
MAl
By Jacqulin Suepaul
Talk to me East Indian mother of this land; bolo, sub kuch
bolo, tell me all you can!
From the day the Fatel Razack la ee ho,
And you chalo, chalo straight to the fields,
Indentured servant, poiya in hand,
To work for a meal planting kitari aur dhaan.
Tell me mai, about that kaam, that work.
Sun baking. Back breaking. Salt and roti melting
As yuh keep on toiling, kaam karti rahee, for wages
to nothing.

next

Every 'fore day morning' yuh up,
Khaanaa banaanaa, food to cook; capray dhona, clothes
to wash,
Bancho palan posan, children to see 'bout; barracks saaf
karan, barracks to clean,
Before yuh khait chalan, leave to go out.

Now,
yuh
bachchay
aur naatay,
children
and
grandchildren
are not only adhyaapak, vakeel, teacher,
lawyers and doctors
But rose to raastra pati, president and pradhan muntri,
prime minister
Rewards are worth balidaan dio, sacrifices you offered.
With the kitari aur dhaan yuh plant in this ground
You help to build people, villages, towns - Iogue, gaav,

nagar.
Yes Mai, mujhe garv hai, I proud to say, you help make
Trinidad what it is today.
Yuh enrich we culture with bhojan you make cook ray by
the chulha.
With your holy festivals, your music, your dholak, your

dhantal
With

the kaseedas

and bhajans

yuh sing as the cutlass

ring,
And what about dem barracks? Lil' two by four;
Choke up space to bechaaway rice pal to sonay on lepay
floor;
Walls thin thin; parosin could hear if yuh choopkay say
bol, whisper too loud,
Far more for when maar khaayo, licks share!

Mai, doh feel shame to admit the abuse yuh suffer
From yuh pati, and de sardar, your workmaster.
Doh feel shame to tell of the other workers

With paramparaa, values
you fulfilled.

you instilled;

So bolo, Mai, yuh have plenty to say
and I need your gyaan, your wisdom

chaahut, longings

to guide me on my

rasatayi
So sadi batay soona 0, Mai, tell all you can tell
Let this sansaar know, in your own way, you excelled!

too;

Sharam aur hassi, ridicule and laughter aimed at you, Mai,
Yuh ghangri stained with curry; head tied with orhni.
They calling yuh 'coolie.'
I know Mai, how like dew on flowers,
Tears must have graced your eyes, many unshed

showers;

But Mai, sir naajook yuh never complain.
Yuh varsho ka parishrum, years of struggle was not 111
vain!
Dhanya hai mai, we grateful yuh brave the kala pani
Stomach six months on the Atlantic sea
Yuh land here, argayee, with just ajahaji bundle and a
Dhristi, a vision.
Humbly start building for agali pirhe, coming generations.
Pawn yuh jewels to send yuh bachchay to college;
Khaaee nahi, do without, so they, we, could have the
privileges, you never had.

Jacqulin Suepaul is a teacher, and the author
ofthe anthology of poems, Tempo in we tongue (2003).

. £oF.A._nagemenl and Staff
of

t-,

I

•••

..

}'

The first potter of Chase Village
By Dr. Harold Harrinarine
Chase Village and Edinburgh Village ...
have become the pottery capital of the country
Chase Village and Edinburgh Village, located slightly
south of Chaguanas in central Trinidad, have become the
pottery capital of the country. This was no accident. This
very flat terrain contains deep quantities of clay. More
importantly, it was left to some very enterprising people
who brought the skill from India to discover this valuable
material, mine it and convert it into useful and marketable
goods. Perhaps the greater significance attached to this
development was the deliberate attempt, if not struggle, by
some of the pioneers, to defy and sever dependence on
cane field employment for survival. This is the brief story
of one such person, the first potter of Chase Village.
They say that he was nine years old when his mother,
Koylee and Uncle Jeetan brought him to Trinidad around
1887. He had a younger sister but over the passage of time
his family and that of his sister's grew to barely know one
another. Dookieram worked alongside his father as a child
labourer for five years as Jeetan worked in his second spell
of indentureship.
Every ancient civilization on earth has left behind
something of its legacy in clay. In India, the archeological
findings at Harappa and Mohenjo Darro, two Dravidian
cities, dating back to 3000 BC, confirm that pottery, as a
practical skill, serving secular and religious needs, was
firmly established. Dookieram belonged to that ancient
line of craftsmen. They were called Kohars in India.
After the completion of his second five-year tenure as
a cane field labourer, Jeetan used his return passage money
to buy approximately four acres of land fronting the
Southern Main Road and Orange Field Road in Chase
Village. He turned his back on the sugar plantations and
went to Flanagin Town where he worked in a cocoa estate
until his death. By this time Koylee had died and
Dookieram was a young man. The property in Chase
Village was passed to him. He married a local girl from the
cocoa plantation and moved to Chase Village determined
to get a pottery business started.
His two older cousins, Goolcharan and Seecharan, had
already established themselves as potters in Bamboo Road
and had conducted their business in almost idyllic settings.
Dookieram became an apprentice to Seecharan and within
a year he had learned enough of pottery to set up a place
for preparing clay, a shop for turning out raw products, a
drying shed, a kiln and storage facilities for finished goods
in Chase Village. Since he was fronting the Southern Main
Road, Dookieram's business grew and flourished rapidly.
He made it a point to take his first grandson with him
wherever he went. Every Saturday he would hitch the
horse to his cart on which there were two large baskets

with earthen wares stacked on straw and head for the
Chaguanas market. He had a remarkable flair for
marketing. He would stand on a deya or a kalsa to
demonstrate the strength of such brittle and small clay
vessels. He would turn down flower pots and set them in a
pattern and jump from one pot unto another to draw
attention to the quality of the product. He placed slices of
ratchet in the clay goblets or water containers and invited
the public to taste his water stored in such vessels. The sale
of goblets rose rapidly and before long nearly every
household was storing drinking water in such vessels. He
made and sold coal pots, bowls of all shapes and sizes,
some finished with a golden glaze inside, bells, children's
toys, smoking chillums and flower pots of every size and
variety.
Lunch in the market was something special. It was
hops bread dipped in condensed milk. Before they were
finished, condensed milk would leak down the arm of the
grandson and smear the grandfather's moustache. He
returned to attend to clients while the grandson's job was
to make a mixture of oats and molasses to feed to the horse
which was tied to the wheel of the cart.
His skill as a potter, as a marketing expert and his
location brought him fortune and prominence. He built a
house on concrete pillars seven feet high to which he
added a beautiful set of concrete stairs. He adorned the
lower level with the variety of vessels he was producing at
the time such that he was able to use them as samples to
take orders from prospective clients.
In his late fifties in the midst of this prosperity he was
struck by a strange illness. He was unable to digest food
properly. More often when he ate he reacted with a violent
spell of vomiting. As the sun began to set, he would step
into his tall wooden shoes, wrap himself in a blanket and
take a walk on Orange Field Road. A few neighbours
would teasingly describe him as the "Magic Man".
He lost weight and became weak and haggard. One
night, there was a loud outburst of screams coming from
his home. My mother grabbed me and fled across the dirt
path. My grandfather had died. He perished in 1937 at a
time when life had become most promising. I was five
years old. My memory of him will forever remain a
cherished part of my childhood. It is to Mr. Dookieram,
my grandfather, a creative, industrious, innovative and
enterprising man, to whom we owe the distinction of being
the first potter in Chase Village.
Dr. Harold Harnarine is a retired Senior
Economist from the Federal Public Service of Canada.

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The need for a Jahaji Massacre memorial
By Devant Maharaj
Dr. Singh ... notes that the Indian festival threatened to rival Carnival, and were it not for the
1884 massacre, Hosay may have surpassed Carnival as the national festival today.
As the nation observes the 159th Indian Arrival we
cannot fail to remember in this Indian Heritage month the
120th anniversary of the Jahaj i Massacre. Upon reflection
on this tragic aspect of our national history Indians and
indeed all nationals must call, even demand a memorial for
these Indians who gave their lives for their culture.
Thursday October 30. 1884 is a day of infamy in the
annals of Trinidad and Tobago's
history.
It marks the
bloodiest moment in Trin idad and Tobago. Yet the day,
and indeed the event. has been obscured by the mists of
time and it is only via the efforts of a few diverse persons
that the memory of "The Jahaji Massacre" lives on.
Dr Kelvin Singh, lecturer
in Latin American
and
Caribbean History at the University of the West Indies is
perhaps the only know n scholar to have researched
and
published a comprehensive
text on the Jahaji Massacre. in
Bloodstained
Tombs (Warwick
University
Caribbean
Studies, 1988), Dr Singh explores fully the conditions of
the time of the massacre, the series of events before and
following
the massacre.
Singh
presents
facts
that
included
many clippings
from the press of the day,
selected testimony, and the Royal Commissioner's
Report.
Singh notes that, "On October 30, 1883, there occurred on
the British Caribbean island of Trinidad one of the most
traumatic episodes in the history of the Indian sector of the
population.
This was the shooting by the colonial police, supported
by a detachment
of British soldiers,
of a number of
participants in the Shia Muslim celebration
of Muharram.
In terms of the island's historical experience, the casualties
were relatively high - at least sixteen killed and over a
hundred wounded
in San Fernando."
It is indeed not
surprising that Indians have lost their lives on a matter of
culture.
Indians today in 2004,
120 years later, still
struggle with the larger society on the issue of culture.
Commenting
on the Jahaji
Massacre
documentation,
Professor Alistair Hennessy,
Series Editor, noted, "The
book illustrates many of the problems posed by the issues
of public order, of cultural
incomprehension
and of
economic
tensions
which
still have a contemporary
relevance."
While
the
religious/cultural
festival
of
Muharrarn was Islamic in origin it transcended
religion.
Indians, Hindus and Muslims, all joined in the celebration
of this observance.
Prof.
Hennessy
wrote
"the
massacre
of
1884
effectively destroyed the major Indian festival which was
comparable
to Carnival."
Singh himself notes that the
Indian festival threatened to rival Carnival in popularity
and were it not for the 1884 Massacre,
it may have

surpassed
Carnival
as the national
festival
today.
Muharram was essentially a passion play that allowed the
indentured
immigrant
to provide social solidarity
with
fellow Indians on other plantations
and perhaps even
strengthen
these ties. This social interaction
among the
indentured community and a new friendly alliance with the
African community
was something
which elements
in
colonial society were not comfortable
with. The Port-ofSpain media, was definitely uncomfortable
with recognising an Indian cultural presence.
The Indentured
Ind ian Imill igrants began ce lebrat ing
Muharrarn shortly after Indians came to Trinidad. Why in
1884 did the colonial government
suddenly react in such a
violent
manner:
In short,
the industrial
unrest
on
the plantations was gaining momentum to be followed by a
deepening depression
in the sugar industry in 1884. This
atmosphere
was also fueled by frequent strikes. In the
previous year, met with restrictions
on the use or torches,
the African community
celebrating
'Canboulay'
reacted
and this resulted
in violence.
The decision
by the
authorities to prohibit the Indians from entering the towns
with their processions,
which began on the estates. "w as
regarded
by the Indians
as an arbitrary
and unjust
measure". The Indians protested with a petition led by a
Hindu
named
Sookhoo
and
31
others.
Without
representation
in government
and without a voice in the
mainstream
med ia these protestations
were not taken
seriously.
The series of events that resulted
from the clash
between
the Indians
defending
their culture and the
government
denying the Indians equal cultural treatment
gave rise to the historic slaughter of the Indians which is
chillingly recounted in Singh's text.
In a series of telegrams, the Inspector Comman-dant
of
Police, Capt. Baker, made several attempts to avoid an
armed confrontation
with the Indians, but the Colonial
Secretary,
Mr.
Pyne,
appeared
bent
on
such
a
confrontation
to show the Indians who was in charge.
At the Mon Repos Junction
and Cross Crossing,
volleys of gunfire mowed down stunned Indian crowds.
Despite seeing their fellow Indians wounded,
and even
killed, many remaining
Indentured
Indians stood their
ground in defiance of the British Raj in Trinidad. These
Indians, despite being indentured, were willing to put their
life on the line for their culture. Mon Repos Junction is
best suited to erect a memorial for these fallen Indians.

Devant Maharaj is an Executive
Member of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha

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MEREDESH
commemorates the lS9th anniversary
of Indian Arrival in Trinidad and Tobago
Mere Desh. the Central Trinidad Indo-Cultural organization, is hosting a gala food and folk dance competition
to commemorate the lS9th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day, 2004.
Mere Desh is a 13-year-old committee dedicated to the preservation of Indian culture in Trinidad and Tobago.
The food and dance competition, which will be held this year to commemorate Indian Arrival Day, will award
cash prizes to:
(1) The Best Folk Dance
(2) The Best Appetizer
(3) The Best Chutney
(4) The Best Meethai
10 unsung national cultural heroes will also be honoured at the event.
Food and folk dance are essential elements of Indian culture, both in Trinidad and Tobago and worldwide. The
competition this year will focus on folk dance, appetizers, chutneys and sweets.
Today, Indian cuisine is a fine blend of native and traditional Indian food, which was brought to Trinidad by the
indentured immigrants and which has evolved over time and space.
Appetizers and chutneys are additions to a meal which complement each other to enhance the flavour and to add
nutrition to the dish. Contestants can choose to create any of the following appetizers: saheena, khaloujee,
baiganee and kachouree. Chutneys can be created from mango, tamarind, pommecythere, coconut or cucumber.
Meethai / sweets have always been integral to Indian culture and cuisine. These too, have evolved with time to
become specific to the Trinidadian context. They are served at weddings, prayers and social functions, and are
also sold at market places. Contestants entering this competition can choose to enter one of five categories:
burfee, rasgoola, gulab jamoon, ladoo or jalebi.
Folk dance is any dance created by a people without any influence of a choreographer. The dances are
developed and practiced expressing the characteristics and the emotions of a people. Many different dancing
styles intermingle to create one dramatic and explosive artistic expression which we call folk dance. They often
reflect the A'lOod of the occasion in which they appear, such as religious festivals, social gatherings and
weddings.
Contestants entering the folk dance competition must perform to local music, and can choose tassa drumming,
chowtal, biraha, sohar or wedding songs. Extra points will be awarded to dancers or groups spicing up their
performances with dramatic portrayals.
Mere Desh has declared 2004 the year of "Dance and Food."
This Food and Folk Dance Competition will be held on Sunday 30th May 2004
at the Chaguanas Market Car Park from 3:00pm.
Admission is Free.

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Couva
Trinidad W.I.
Tel/Fax (868)679-6941
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Hindi words in Trini English
AARTIE
East Indian ceremony involving a circular movement of a camphor-scented

lamp.

ACHHA
East Indian. Good, Fine, alright. Achha bhai - okay brother. Said by parting males.
BABU lBah-Boo}
East Indian - Elderly male.
BHAJI
East Indian for Spinach.
CAPRA
East Indian wear for male, consisting of large, loose fitting wrap tied around the waist
DHANTAL
East Indian. Percussion instrument consisting of a length of iron rod and If-shaped metal striker . Rod is held and released
intermittently for variation in tone
GOBAR
Pronounced Go- barr
East Indian. Cow, goat dung. Plenty of any thing.
HASIKARA
Pronounced Haaaah-see-ca-rah
East Indian- Hasiikar- ludicrous, ridiculous. Trouble. To make Hasikara- to create a disturbance or havoc.
JOOTHA [juta}
East Indian. What you will 'get' when others sip your drink, or eat from your plate. Also leftovers, remnants. Jootha
means unclean food or drink. Originally a shoe. 'Big Juta, lil' Juta-same price, meaning 'anything goes', and alluding to a
country bumpkin's inability to dress himself.
KHATTIAH
East Indian- Low wooden bed.
MALAY
East Indian. Cut, grind into tiny pieces.
SANAY
East Indian. To mix, using the hand.
SARI
Elegant East Indian garment worn by women, which is pleated and wrapped around the waist and draped over the left.
shoulder. Usually made of silk or some fine fabric
TAJAH
East Indian- Decorated version of the Taj Mahal , parade at Hosay time.

Sample entries from Cote ci Cote La by John Mendes. Published by Medianet Ltd., Newtown, Port of Spain.

Lexicon Trinidad Ltd

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A new way of looking at Caribbean history
By Dr Baytoram Ramharack
... resistance to this Indo-centric approach comes from various interest groups in Caribbean
societies ..
The ascension of Indian political leaders to the highest
political offices in both Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago
are positive contributions
towards
an Indo-centric
approach in understanding the Indian presence in the
Caribbean. However, there is little evidence to suggest that
this growing level of Indian consciousness has been
manifested or remain permanently
saturated in the
consciousness of the Indian intellectual and political
leadership in the Caribbean. In many ways, resistance to
this Indo-centric approach comes from various interest
groups in Caribbean societies, particularly in countries like
Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, where
Indians form a large section of the national population.
"Being Indian" is often confused and equivocated with
"being racist." This trend is a powerful weapon against
those who might be willing to challenge existing
paradigms by exploring non- traditional models of
analysis. Unfortunately, this trend is even identifiable
among Indian writers and scholars who have been unable
or unwilling to make a partial or complete break from the
established western-oriented
paradigms of analysis of
Caribbean societies, much less the Indian experience.
The history of Indians in Guyana has not been fully
explored and appreciated because of a number of factors,
all of which either partially emphasize a certain aspect of
that history or they have ignored the essential features of a
more broadly defined history of Indians in the Caribbean.
In the case of Guyana, the history of Indians has been
interpreted in a manner designed to promote and support a
particular ideological orientation within a dominant
paradigm. The result has been a peculiar trend in the
Guyanese view of history that tends to gloss over the
Indian experience and a tendency to examine it wholly or
partially as a continuation of the African presence in the
region. While it is understandable that there is a linear
historical evolution of Guyanese society dating back to
pre-colonial times, and the Indian experience cannot be
fully appreciated without considering the influence of
other social forces, there is a certain dynamic that is
unique to the Indian experience. It is that experience which
was being celebrated by the BGEIA in 1938.
Both of these approaches, that is, treating the
Indian experience as simply an extension of "other
experiences" and/or examining that experience from a
European perspective contribute to the underdevelopment
of a legitimate and credible Indian historiography. The
lack of well-developed Indian historiography before World
War 1I resulted in the post-independence Indian generation
being influenced, intellectually and ideologically, by the

experience of the central organization to which Indians
have loyally supported, namely the party of Dr. Cheddi B.
Jagan, the People's Progressive Party [PPP). It is possible
though that Dr. Cheddi Jagan himself may have known
very little about Mr. Bechu, the radical Bengali champion
of the Indian indentured workers whose prolific and
astutely written letters to the press exposed the injustices
and immorality of the British treatment of Indians.
The point here is that an ethnic group must have a
holistic view of their historical evolution and that view
ought not be skewed towards legitimizing the interest of a
particular ideology or orientation. The political dynamic in
Guyana has contributed to the existence of a political
history that is constantly subjected to some level of
revisionism to protect the legacy of existing political
organizations and their struggles. This has contributed to a
hybrid examination of the contributions of the Indians in
Guyana in their struggle for self-identity,
cultural
awareness and national recognition. However, the burden
of sensitizing and educating Indians in Guyana about their
heritage and historical legacy naturally fell to the PPP.
Unfortunately, because the leadership of the PPP has been
much more preoccupied with the preservation of its own
Marxist "working class" legacy, its ability to emphasize an
Indo-centric orientation was either limited, negated or
distorted to coincide with its own ideological orientation
and historical experience. This, however, is not to take
away from the PPP's initial contribution towards the
political struggle of its largely Indian supporters, a
contribution that will no doubt come under greater
scrutiny, given the problems that continue to plague
Indians in Guyana today. To grasp a holistic understanding
of society at a particular time, the historian as analyst,
must
carefully
reconstruct
the
events
and the
circumstances
during which those events occurred.
Admittedly, in this case, no attempt is being made to
provide an analysis of those events, but to produce the
document as a tool for analysis by others who may be
willing to pursue such goals.

Dr Baytoram Ramharack is a political science lecturer at
Nassau Community College in the USA. He has just
released a book entitled Centenary Celebration of the
Arrival of Indians in British Guiana (1838-1938).

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I recipe

LowkeelBottle Gourd Talkari
Lowkee is aLso called bottLe gourd. It is a smooth, bottLe- or club-shaped, crook-necked or coiled fruit.
It is usually 10-100 em Long with a hard, durabLe rind.
The pLant itself (BottLe gourdiLagenaria siceraria) is hardLy known by the younger generation of IndoCaribbean peopLe. In Trinidad, it can be found in the country areas of Debe and Cunupia.
Ingredients
llowkee (about 2 Ib/900grms)
4 tsp /4 x 5 ml spoons curry powder
4 tsp /4 x 5 ml spoons minced garlic
2 tsp / 2 x 5 ml spoons minced bandhaniya (shado beni)
1 medium onion (chopped finely)
1 pot spoon / 50 mls vegetable oil
4 tsp / 4 x 5 ml spoon water (to mix curry)
1 tsp / 1 x 5 ml spoon ground geera (cumin)
1 hot pepper
Salt to taste
Method
Peel Lowkee and cut into squares.
Remove seeds and cut into small pieces.
Wash and leave in some water
Heat oil, mix curry with water, onion, garlic and bandhaniya and fry for 2 - 3 minutes.
Drain Lowkee and add to pot.
Turn it up properly and add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir well-so that all pieces are completely coated with curry mixture
Cook until soft, then add the geera and stir well..
Serves 4 persons.

Sample from the book Caribbean East Indian Recipes. Chakra Publishing House, San Juan, Trinidad.

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Labour disturbances during Indentureship in Guyana
By Dr. Basdeo Mangru
In the confrontation with the police, 15 Indians were shot and killed, including an indentured
woman, Gobindei. The shooting was condemned in India and elsewhere, and it certainly helped
the campaign to abolish the system.
Beginning from the late 1860s, a number of strikes
and labor demonstrations occurred in the sugar belt.
Several explanations for these strikes were given. The
planters argued that Brahmins and ex-sepoys were
instigating workers to strike. Others believed that workers
were becoming more assertive as they realized that an
official commission was investigating labor conditions
in the colony. But the main explanation was that most
workers were seasoned hands who were prepared to
protest when wages fell below the minimum rate.
The first strike began at Leonora in July 1869 when
40 workers of the shovel gang complained that their
wages were withheld for unfinished
work.
The
following year violence flared up at Plantations Hague,
Uitvlugt, Mon Repos, Non Pareil, Zeelugt, Vergenoegen
and Success. The most serious conflict in the 1870s
occurred at Plantation
Devonshire
Castle on the
Essequibo Coast where five Indians - Maxidally,
Beccaroo, Kaulica, Baldeo and Ackloo - were shot and
killed by the police. These were the first Indians to lose
their lives while fighting against injustice and planter
exploitation.
Throughout the last quarter of the 19th century clashes
between the police and sugar workers occurred on a
regular basis. Most centered on low wages and long
working hours. One very serious confrontation
took
place at Non Pareil in October 1896, resulting in the
death of five Indians from buck shots. Although a
reduction in wages was the main cause of the strike, there
was considerable anger among Indians over the fact that
Acting Manager, Gerad Van Nooten, was living with an
Indian woman. In the clash with the police, the woman's
husband, Jungli, was among those who died.
In the 20th century, up to 1938, there were five
mai n confrontations
between the police and' sugar
workers. In 1903 the attempt by the manager at Friends
in Berbice to reduce wages for 'half banking' work
(preparing the rows for the replanting of cane tops)
resulted in a clash with the police and the death of six
Indians.
The most violent clash between Indian workers and
the police in the indenture period took place at Plantation
Rose Hall, Berbice, in 1913. On this plantation Indians
had several grievances.
They were peeved over the
excessively long hours of work with no extra pay, the
high rents charged for rice beds and the bullying attitude
of the manager and the head driver, Jugmohan. Tension
mounted when the manager suddenly withdrew his

promise to grant workers four days holiday in addition to
those prescribed by law. When the workers protested, the
manager ordered the arrest and transfer of the 'ring
leaders' and their spouses to distant estates. In the
confrontation with the police, 15 Indians were shot and
killed, including an indentured woman, Gobindei. The
shooting was condemned in India and elsewhere, and it
certainly helped the campaign to abolish the system.
Between 1917 and 1939 major clashes between the
police and the sugar workers occurred at Plantation
Ruimve1dt and at Leonora. The troubles at Ruimveldt
originated in a dispute over rates of pay for dock workers
in Georgetown. Tension spilled over into the plantations
on the East Bank Demerara where estate personnel
were assaulted. On 3 April, 1924 a large crowd of
Indians and Blacks from the East Bank "began its march
on Georgetown." They were stopped at Ruimveldt to
prevent their entry into the city. In the struggle the police
shot and killed 13 and arrested 77. What was significant
about this riot was that sugar workers, both Indians and
Blacks, appeared united in their fight against oppression.
In the 1930s dissatisfaction
leading to riots was
widespread in Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica
and the Windward and Leeward Islands. It followed a
financial crisis in New York, which spread, to other parts
of the world including the Caribbean. The last of these
riots took place in February 1939 at Leonora, an estate
which had a history of workers' resistance. Without
reading the Riot Act, as they should, the police fired on
the 'ring leaders' killing four workers including Sumintra,
a young female weeder.
The Leonora strike was significant. It forced the
sugar producers
to grant recognition
to the Man
Power Citizens Association (MPCA), a recently formed
trade union headed by Ayube Eden, a goldsmith by trade.
For the first time in a hundred years a trade union was
formed in Guyana to represent solely the interests of
sugar workers, one of the most exploited groups in the
history of the working class movement in Guyana.
In the hundred years,
1838-1938,
over 600
strikes and 50 deaths were recorded on the sugar estates
in Guyana. These strikes, which resulted in assaults on
managers, drivers and overseers, tended to destroy and
put to rest the notion that Indians were a docile people.

Extract from Dr. Basdeo Mangru' s book
Indians in Guyana. Chicago: Adams Press, 2000.

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Strikes and protest action by indentured labourers
By Dr. Ron Ramdin
During 1882-84 there were serious strikes involving police intervention on estates in
Naparima, EI Socorro and at Laurel Hill. And in 1891, a strike lasting six weeks took place
on the Golconda estate.
The grievances of indentured labourers -covered a
wide range of matters. For instance, many migrants were
inclined to complain about the expense of food as
compared with Indian prices, but it was found that on
those estates where earnings were considered 'good,'
prosecutions were few. This was regarded more as an
argument in weighing up the pros and cons of Indian
immigration than as an immediate grievance.
On most of the large estates, managers were
suspicious of a few old hands, who were 'restive under
any control or discipline.' They were regarded as
'dangerous mentors' to the new recruits. The
employment of 'good' Headmen was therefore seen as
the best immediate antidote to dissipate the 'imaginary
or trivial' grievances of the indentured labourers. Those
accused of fomenting disturbances were transferred to
other estates, and while conceding that the butt of the
'trouble maker' was the estate Manager, Overseer and
Headman, it was usually a very imperfect inquiry which
traced the trouble no further. In this connection, McNeill
and Lal wrote: 'There is always some tinder for the spark,
and while the spark may not be under control the tinder
should not have been ready to hand.' No doubt, trouble
on the estates was directly attributable to the conditions
of restraint and ignorance under which the indentured
migrant laboured and lived.
Thus there was always the undeniable potential of
seri_oustrouble, which was intermittently expressed in
'informal' work protests for example, through desertion,
go-slows and sabotage on the sugar estates. In fact, the
combined grievances of their daily working lives found
expression at public festivals such as the Muharram
(Hosein or Hussay) processions. If at first the new
arrivals on the estates posed no problem, after gaining
some work experience, they realised that their rights,
though few, were constantly being undermined. They
also found that most actions taken to redress grievances,
resulted in breaches of contract. Thus they were
prosecuted almost always in an effort to prevent them
from 'evading work.' Consequently, they responded to
their oppression through mass labour strikes in the form
of 'strikes' which frequently occurred between July and
October, the wet (rainy) season or immediately after.
Among the few officials who had, prior to the turn of
the twentieth century, bothered to inquire into these
strikes was Charles Mitchell, who confirmed his earlier
suspicions that the fundamental cause was the low
earnings of indentured labourers. Moreover, such
earnings showed wide fluctuation between the crop and
out-of-crop seasons. In 1891 D.W.D Comins had found
that on one estate 55 men earned during crop time an

average of 16 cents a day, compared with 12 cents a day
out of season. Around this time, female indentured
labourers' earnings (in relation to males) were even
lower than they had previously been. It needs little
imagination to comprehend the difficulties these women
faced in maintaining their self-respect while bringing up
their growing, demanding families.
Although by the early 1870s, a few estates permitted
their labourers to use certain acreage to grow provisions;
this practice was restricted and short-lived. And even
though the wage rates of indentured labour were
supplemented by housing and medical care, it was
argued that in real terms, indentured labourers'
'theoretical earnings were rarely, if ever, attained.'
Persistent low earnings, therefore, frustrated the
indentured labourers' attempts to rise above their poverty
and not surprisingly, they resorted to desperate acts to
redress their grievances.
The strike action of these labourers had become of
much concern, enough to absorb Government officials
who punished the ringleaders and participants. But while
such actions were repressed, rebellion among the Indians
continued. In 1885, no fewer than 21 labourers were
convicted for inciting migrants to strike, and although by
the end of the century, committals averaged seven a year,
the number in 1889 was unusually high. These strikes
were not without violence. The first major action taken
was at Cedar Hill in 1882, when an Overseer was
attacked by a group of labourers. During 1882-4 there
were serious strikes involving police intervention on
estates in Naparima, EI Socorro and at Laurel Hill. And
in 1891, a strike lasting six weeks took place on the
Golconda estate. According to one account, this was
caused by 'excessive tasks' and, as a consequence, the
size of tasks was reduced. The migrants, not satisfied
with the concession, asked to be put on 'Time work' of9
hours a day; but discontent prevailed until finally a few
ring leaders were sent to estates in Cedros.
Officials agreed that all the serious trouble on the
estates, essentially after 1900, was primarily the work of
re-emigrating Indians. Of course, this was only partly
true. The real causes of the trouble had much to do with
the long-standing grievances of labourers, many of
whom at times, acted 'spontaneously' in an employerworker relationship, based essentially on confrontation
and conflict. In 1900 a strike over wages broke out in
Harmony Hall estate, resulting in sixty-four strikers
being sentenced to 21 days hard labour.
.
Ron Ramdin received his Doctor of Literature
(D.Lit.) from the University of London in 1996.

I NEWS

ON INDIANS

Ancient Indian Ayurvedic Medicine
Protected
A database
of 36.000
traditional
medicine
formulations translated from ancient Ayurvedic texts has
emerged as India's tool to fight unfair international
patents. The database of formulations
based on
medicinal plants and herbs used in India for centuries
will be made available to patent authorities in the US,
Europe, Japan and elsewhere. The database is intended
to prevent international patents offices from honouring
unfair claims such as the patent turmeric as a wound
healing agent issued by the US patents office to USbased scientists in the mid-\990s.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
(CSIR) had successfully gotten the US patent on
turmeric revoked as a patent valid only if an invention is
not the public domain. The first phase of the database
project involved documenting information on Ayurveda
in a digitized format in English, German, French,
Spanish and Japanese where researchers the world will
be able to use this library. International patent examiners
had until now no source to fall back on when
considering the patent ability of any claimed invention
dealing with traditional knowledge. The knowledge
database would provide and easily accessible and
retrievable source of knowledge for patent examiners to
verify claims.
NEW DELHI. £NOlA. November 6, 2003.

I NEWS

ON INDIANS

Indians take over Queens
The Melting Pot, which includes the nation's largest
metropolitan areas and where most immigrants come in
search of their American dream, is becoming less white
and more diverse at a pace without precedent. In 1970,
Queens (one of New York City's five boroughs) was 86
percent white. Today the same area is a third white and
nearly half foreign-born. The Richmond Hills area of
Queens, now with a predominately Indian population, has
changed from 60 percent to 28 percent white in the last ten
years. New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Houston, Miami and Chicago are the areas where the
largest, longest and most universal wave of immigration in
history is arriving on American shores, says this article.
Unlike the multilingual cosmopolitanism of New York and
New Jersey, immigration is predominantly Latino in Texas,
California and Florida. And in Texas and California - the
states with the largest populations - immigrants are
mostly from Mexico. More than half of all newborns in
California are Latino, and Latinos likely will outnumber
non-Latino whites in Texas by 2020. In 1960, more than
half of Californians were born in other states, and fewer
than one in 10 were born abroad. By 2000, 26 percent of
Californians were foreign-born.
Source: www.oregonlive.com/news
NEW YORK, U.S.A., February 25,2004

The persistence of Indian culture in Trinidad
By Dr. Gita Bajpai
The select values ... are those pertaining to the family, and the respect for the elders i.e.
seniority in the family, to the sanctity of marriage, and the notion of legitimacy of offsprings
from such a marriage.
One of the most engaging of themes of the Indian
Diaspora in Trinidad has been that of continuities Persistence of Culture 'among migrants and their
descendants form India in the indentureship period. The
cultural baggage these emigrants carried with them,
remained largely unchanged, at least in the first few
generations. This article explores only certain aspects of
continuity as gleaned largely through interviews conversations with the surviving indentures, at their homes
in Trinidad.
One of the prominent of these social-cultural beliefs
and practices was that of 'caste.' Caste consciousness was
a consciousness
that cut across the broad divide,
recognized in Trinidad as 'high' and 'low' 'nation' -being
the 'high' and 'low' castes respectively. While rigidities or
near rigidities were seen to erode over time, there
persisted, nevertheless a strong caste-consciousness which
gets reflected in conversations with second and third
generation Indians. Now, this consciousness permeated
virtually all castes of descendants. This is of particular
significance as historians have observed this consciousness
generally in binary terms viz. the 'high' and the 'low'
castes. This is far from the existing reality as the
conversations reveal. Furthermore, while some social
segregation softened overtime. On the question of
marriage, they remained relatively more firm. On this
question, again, the traditional view held ground much
more among the upper castes, in all probability more at the
'mohall a' i.e. locality. Family ties were reinforced through
the celebration of lifecyc\e and other events, which were
essentially family functions. The respect accorded to the
elders gets reflected, again in the case of Pandit Parasram,
virtually a patriarch living among his sons.
The sanctity accorded to marriage also saw continuity.
It was this .continuity that gave sustenance to family values
and stability to marriages. That this value and the notion of
legitimacy of offspring from such marriages were held
very strongly comes out clearly in the assertion made
repeatedly by the surviving indenture since interviewed in
2001 passed away, Parbati Singh. She repeated most
emphatically, that she was the daughter of a 'beohata' i.e.;
in Bhojpuri language, a married woman, and not an unwed
mother. Her mother Rani Singh had emigrated from
Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, with the baby girl, Parbati, ;.
The Indian society at large is generally known to be
vegetarian. Vegetarianism was adhered to across a wide
range of castes ranging from the 'high' to the 'low.'
Continuity of this through succeeding generations in

level of belief rather than practice. Such consciousness,
and the sentiments it generated, evidently kept alive the
mutual antipathies of the 'high' and the 'low' castes,
especially where the concerns were ritualistic. This is
borne out in the practice of the 'chamars' having their own
trained pundits of their own caste to perform, as for
example the rituals at marriage.
Some of the crucial elements of any study of culture
and society are the values of the society. I will now turn to
some of the key values and of the continuities therein. The
select values that will receive attention are those pertaining
to the family, and the respect for the elders i.e. seniority in
the family; to the sanctity of marriage, and the notion of
legitimacy of offspring's
from such a marriage; to
vegetarianism; to the respect for the Great Indian epic the
Ramayana; and to the veneration for the cow.
The importance of the family among these second and
third generation Indians is seen in the observance of a
variety of interactions as well as in the residential pattern.
Looking at the latter, it is to be noted that members of a
joint family were -seen to live under the same roof, with a
common kitchen. Even in the modified form the residential
pattern, as for example in the case of Pandit Parasram of
McBean Village, Couva, reflects the deep-rootedness of
this value. He resides in house on a fairly large piece of
land, with his few sons, and their families in independent
houses on the same premise. What was in India and
Trinidad came across again in the conversations. This
entailed virtually the shunning of eating of beef, pork,
goat, fowl, fish and crab.
For understanding the deep-rooted religiosity we turn
to select two elements from the Hindu tradition. These are,
one, the deep reverence for the Ramayana, and two, the
veneration for the cow. The former gets reflected in the
practice of regular readings of the Ramayana in homes; in
the celebration of the Ramlilla and other religious
functions associated with Ram Indeed, in the greetings of
the common man of 'Sita Ram,' this expression of greeting
was prevalent in rural North India up till early twentieth
century, and hence was carried by emigrants from the
region.
The Bhojpuri-speaking region, to which most of the
indentured Indians belonged, was from late nineteenth
century the 'storm-center of a powerful cow protection
movement. .. '
Bajpai is a former visiting professor at UWI,
and is now at MS University, Baroda, India.

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The Indian family in transition
By Dr. Simboonath

Singh

Today, arranged marriages are usually frowned upon by the younger generation of IndoTrinidadians. The norm is for individual choice with parental approval.
Typically,
most Indo-Trinidadian
families preferred to have their married sons and wives live at home
with them. They built extra rooms to accommodate them.
However, the current trend is for young couples to live on
their own, earning and managing their own family
budgets. This movement away from the sharing of
residence with parents has resulted in the emergence of
nuclear family homes. It is no longer a disgrace for newlywed couples to find their own home. One possible reason
for the adoption of autonomous living (i.e., living in a
nuclear family situation involving just parents and
children) may have to do with education. Thus, the
typical western criteria of status - education, occupation,
and income - by and large, now form the basis of the IndoTrinidadian attitude towards education.
Another factor responsible for the demise of the
traditional extended family system in Trinidad can be
attributed to widespread industrialization and urbanization.
The rapid expansion of the economy produced high rates of
urbanization and suburbanization which may have, to some
extent, outmoded the traditional extended family system.
The emergence of a profitable oil export economy in
Trinidad significantly
changed the island's economic
structure - one that was based on a plantation economy, to
one based on an export-oriented industrial economy.
Research by Michael Angrosino (1977) indicates that the
most significant
concomitant
of family styles in
Trinidad- is socioeconomic. Angrosino's study points to
the impact that changes in income had on the changes
to the traditional Indo-Trinidadian family structure.
This type of economic development, coupled with
the adoption of "Creole values," also resulted in
attitudinal changes toward divorce. Traditional Hindu
thought was definitely against divorce, especially for
females. Hinduism advocated that women should not
marry more than once even after their marriage partners
died. Muslim
women,
on the other hand, had
opportunities
for separation
since Islam permitted
divorce. During the period 1870-1940s, Hindu women in
Trinidad had no access to divorce. Today, however,
divorce among Indo-Trinidadians is becoming more and
more common place.
Structural
and cultural
factors such as those
previously discussed gave rise to other changes in the
Indo-Trinidadian family. The gradual decline in arranged
marriages among Indo-Trinidadians is a case in point.
During the early indenture period, arranged marriages
were probably the cultural ideal and statistical norm.

Increasing
educational
opportunities and wide scale
urbanization undoubtedly led to wide-scale changes in
attitudes towards arranged marriages. From the 1940s,
marriages were not parentally
arranged, and IndoTrinidadian women increasingly opted for their own
selection of a spouse. By the 1950s, most IndoTrinidadian parents, including village parents, conceded to
personal choice as the best method of mate selection.
First, it was a situation where neither the bride nor
the groom saw each other until the day of the wedding.
This situation was later modified so that the couple would
arrange to meet each other, and would then indicate to
their parents if they agreed to marry. Then there arose
another modification - one involving a system of
arranged courtship. In this situation the prospective
bridegroom would visit a few times and shortly after,
marriage plans would be finalized. Since the 1970s to the
present, the situation
has become almost entirely
courtship. Many Indo-Trinidadian parents try to pass on
their religion and culture to succeeding generations,
and expect the same from their children's choices in
marriage.
Today,
arranged
marriages
are usually
frowned upon by the younger generation of IndoTrinidadians. The norm is for individual choice with
parental approval.
Particular aspects of marriage customs associated with
Indian weddings were also re-adapted in Trinidad. For
example, in northern India (where the majority of
indentured Indians came from) the payment of dowry
was a common practice. However, in nineteen-century
Trinidad, the system of dowry has become extinct. The
giving
of gifts to both the dulaha (bridegroom) and
dulahin (bride) is the accepted practice today.
Changes have also occurred in the area of wedding
rituals and practices. No longer is the "muhurta" (the
time when a Hindu marriage is most propitious) seen as
important. It has been replaced by a particular day most
suited to merriment i.e. Sundays. Also, the traditional attire
worn by Indo-Trinidadian brides has undergone some
changes. For example, it was customary for the Hindu bride
to wear a yellow sari, and then a red sari followed by a
white sari. With increasing
westernization,
Hindu
brides are now wearing both the traditional sari as well as
the white wedding gown typical of western/Christian
weddings.
Simboonath Singh is a professor of Sociology at
Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Canada.

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Being Indian in the Caribbean
By Ryhaan Shah
That success will be based on the understanding that it is respect that must bind us in the
allegiance to create a cohesive and just society.
After reading Dr Ian McDonald's column, "A culture
for the world," published in Sunday Stabroek of September
14, 2003, we must, to use McDonald's words, once again
bring "the issue to the boil." The issue being - being Indian
in the Caribbean - and what this means for us and for the
many who continue their attempts to colonise us into their
image of what we should be, a sentiment that seems
acceptable in the region. McDonald forwards pleasantly
enough the simplistic examples of our wider allegiance to
a West Indian nation using a high-school roll call of names
that include African and Indian names, etc. This is seen as
a "multitudinous accommodation" just as Indians eating
chowmein and Africans, curry, satisfies simple minds
looking for the superficialities that bind us.
Then, Freudian slip or not, McDonald writes of
Indians not fracturing the Caribbean community because
they "want" (my inverted commas) to be part of a West
Indian nation. A people in a state of "want" instead of a
state of "being" are at an immediate disadvantage, and if
they believe this perception to be true, they can be
persuaded to do whatever it takes to change their status
quo. After 165 years in Guyana, Indians are not seen by
McDonald as having arrived and as belonging. He
perceives us as striving still as outsiders; wanting to be.
Indians themselves, on the other hand, know and are very
sure that we are part of the West Indian nation just as, and
on equal footing with, every other ethnic group which
makes up the people of the region.
This single word of McDonald's exposes the thinking
that drives prejudice against Indians in Guyana and in
Trinidad and Tobago. Since we do not really belong, the
reasoning goes, Indians can be attacked and driven out,
even killed. Indians feel this prejudice and know it,
experience it, and the reason they have not fractured the
regional community is that they choose to emigrate
instead, and live in civilized societies where their rights to
their culture, heritage and ethnicity are respected.
And there is the word that is completely missing from
McDonald's column on Caribbean culture: respect. What
we have instead is the word "absorbed." Given that the
accepted status quo of Caribbean culture is Christian and
AfrolEurocentric, what does this mean for the Indian?
Synonyms for the word "absorbed" include: sucked up;
swallowed up; taken in completely; incorporated; ingested;
digested; consumed; occupied; assimilated. The use of the
word "absorbed" in relation to people, any people, is
violent, abusive, offensive and repulsive.
Using language very loosely, McDonald writes of
people being absorbed but not losing themselves in wider

allegiances.
One cannot be consumed, sucked up,
swallowed whole and not lose oneself. And who decides
who will be absorbed into what wider allegiance? If the
Caribbean's Christians are absorbed into Hindusim, is this
acceptable because they will have the wider allegiance to
being religious?
The "most dominant," McDonald says, must make the
"most allowances," and so whole peoples are placed at the
mercy of a dominant's group tact in McDonald's
assembling of the Caribbean world. The whole argument
has a nose-wrinkling repulsion more so because of
McDonald's sanctimonious patronage when he notes that
Indians' "special traditions find an honourable and
enduring place" in the Caribbean.
In Jamaica, 25,000 Indian indentured labourers and
their descendants have disappeared as a people in less than
a hundred years. They were absorbed out of existence into
Black Jamaican society. Jamaican Indians were denied the
rights to their culture and religion by the British colonial
government though they resisted the assimilation as much
as they could. In the end, being small in number, they lost
out and have virtually disappeared as a people.
Indians in Guyana and in Trinidad and Tobago will not
be absorbed. We will be respected for who we are and for
all our contributions to the development of Guyana,
Trinidad and Tobago, and to the Caribbean as a whole.
The racism of colonizing people should have ended with
independence from the colonial masters but the old
colonialists among us have yet to understand that the
civilized world respects and celebrates the differences
among people.
Indians in Guyana, and in Trinidad and Tobago, will
continue to bring this issue to the boil until there is
success. That success will be based on the understanding
that it is respect that must bind us in the allegiance to
create a cohesive and just society. A society formed by
people who respect each other cannot be divisive, racist, or
unjust.
GIHA is aware of the extremely high esteem with
which McDonald is held by Stabroek News, but he has had
his say and we hope that this reply to his statements will
not be appended by an Editor's Note to defend him. We
will reply should this happen.

Ryhaan Shah is a journalist and the President
of Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA)

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I book review
From Caste to Class
By Rosabelle Seesaran
Time-expired Indians realized the potential of shop-keeping for making money, and their
savings accumulated during indenture, were ready capital.
From Caste to Class: The Social Mobility
of the Indo-Trinidadian Community, 1870-1917.
Trinidad: Rosaac Publishing House, 2003
317 pages, $150.00 TT
Review by Jerome Teelucksingh
The work From Caste to Class covers the postindentureship period to the abolition of indentureship in
1917. This remarkable and seminal publication on East
Indians was originally a doctoral dissertation from the
History Department of the University of the West Indies,
St. Augustine in Trinidad. Seesaran provides a refreshing
perspective as she weaves a socio-historical account of a
minority ethnic group struggling to survive in a new host
society. The selective and terse case studies of indentured
Indians such as Cowlasar Neradas (1841-1914) and
Boodoosingh (1848-1928) provide rich historical evidence
of the manner in which Indians were able to create a stable
economic foundation and battle against the monumental
challenges of indentureship. These early Indians were
successfully involved in shop keeping, farming and money
\ending.
Seesaran must be commended for the judicious
utilization of diverse sources, which included newspapers,
official
reports,
magazines,
brochures,
journals,
dissertations and oral interviews (especially of the secondgeneration Indians). Furthermore, the pictures from family
albums were a valuable asset, which provided some insight
into the attire and cultural norms of these early
immigrants. Examples include the pictures of a bejeweled
Indian woman (p.124), a Hindu barber (p.150) and stickplay (Gatcar) between two men (p.I92).
Indeed, the reader will benefit immensely from the
comprehensive glossary with the English meanings of
Hindi expressions and names. In identifying Indians, the
author included both the pronunciation and the actual
spelling such as Gopaul (Gopal) and Rahamut (Rahmat).
A noteworthy aspect of the book is the dialectic
tension between the processes of assimilation and ethnic
solidarity. Despite being converted to Presbyterianism, the
easily recognized
socio-religious
characteristics
of
Hinduism persisted. Interestingly, throughout From Caste
to Class there is emphasis on the ominous presence of the
caste system, which prevailed amidst the acculturation of
Indians and also contributed to social stratification.
Seesaran seeks to accurately portray the majority of the

early Indians as possessing hindsight of the necessity and
importance of saving their meagre earnings. Prior to
indentureship, some of the Indians had been involved in
business in their homeland. Some of the knowledge, which
was brought with Indians to Trinidad, included peasant
farming and land ownership. Not surprisingly,
this
economic trend was adopted by those Indians who had not
been exposed to any form of entrepreneurship as they soon
understood the importance of frugality and appreciated the
need for a business acumen, "Time-expired
Indians
realized the potential of shop-keeping for making money,
and their savings accumulated during indenture, was ready
capital."
The intertwining relationship between Presbyterianism
and Hinduism among the Indians is important
in
understanding the emergence of a Presbyterian elite.
Seesaran clearly enunciated the fact that the provision of
education by the Canadian Mission (CM) schools,
particularly in rural areas and secondary institutions as
Naparima College in San Fernando, provided the pivotal
and necessary lever for social mobility of the children of
indentured and time-expired Indians. This is illustrated in
Chapter 6 which vividly demonstrated
the various
opportunities for educated Indians who were products of
the education system of the Canadian Presbyterian
mission. These included such prestigious jobs in the civil
service, immigration department, pharmaceutical field, and
medicine, law and as court interpreters.
A minor shortcoming in the publication
is the
inclusion of Indians and politics in Chapter 7, which dealt
with "Social and Civic Life." In retrospect, the book would
have certainly benefited from a separate chapter or a
substantial subsection on the entry of Indians in the
political sphere, especially their worthwhile and invaluable
input in the Legislative Council and the development of
party politics. Undoubtedly, From Caste to Class is a
remarkable contribution to the historiography of Indians in
the Caribbean. The frequent interaction of class, ethnicity,
culture and religion within an agricultural society focusing
on profit maximization has been admirably dealt with in
this study. This well-written masterpiece should be
compulsory reading for those persons
seeking
to
understand
the underlying forces,
belief
systems,
institutions and sheer determination which were largely
responsible for the meteoric rise of Indians in a
challenging and inhospitable environment.

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Naipaul and Bissoondath reflect on Indentureship
By Dr. John Persaud Ramphal
Naipaul remembers as a child, aged six or seven, being taken by his father for a walk one
Sunday afternoon, and seeing the horrifying scene of these discarded, abused immigrants
workers in the Square.
Many of the indentured East Indians died before the
expiration of their contractual period, but an overwhelming
majority decided to remain in the Caribbean, while only
about one-quarter returned to India. Many of those who
were repatriated became derelicts in India, and wanted to
return to Trinidad because India for them had been a
dream of home. a dream of continuity after the illusion of
Trinidad. All the India they had found, however, was the
area around the Calcutta docks. As well, many of those
who remained in Trinidad
became
destitute
and
homeless. compelled to sleep at Woodford Square,
named after a previous Governor of the island, in the
capital, Port of Spain. Naipaul remembers as a child, aged
six or seven, being taken by his father for a walk one
Sunday afternoon, and seeing the horrifying scene of these
discarded, abused immigrants workers in the Square.
In A Way in the World (1987), Naipaul wrote: "Many of
them would have been indentured immigrants from India
who had served out their indentures on the sugar
estates ... with nowhere to live ... without money, job,
without anything like a family, without the English
language; without any kind of representation.
They
were utterly destitute ... In the colonial setting of Trinidad,
where rights were limited, you could have done anything
with these people; and they were tormented by the people
of the town [mostly Africans]." What Naipaul saw of the
homelessness,
dereliction,
and destitution
of these
indentured labourers made an indelible impression on his
young mind, and they resurfaced as themes in his writing
many years later. His father himself nearly returned to
India, but although
the family
was passed for
repatriation, he panicked and disappeared at the last
moment, thus preventing his widowed mother from returning
Many of the indentured immigrants were recruited by
their own people, known as arkatis, betrayers, who blatantly lied to the recruits about the working conditions and
remuneration under indentureship. There are many horror
stories about how some of these recruits were shanghaied
into leaving India, with alcohol playing a major role in the
incredible drama.
Most immigrants, however, were motivated by other
reasons to forsake their homeland and venture on a voyage
that took them to an unknown land. The most important
reason was a universal one: they all had hoped for a better
life. There were also other political, religious, and social
reasons. Naipaul's nephew, Neil Bissoondath, employs his
historical imagination in his novel, A Casual Brutality

(1988), through his protagonist, Raj Ramsingh, in an
attempt to provide reasons for his ancestors leaving India:
"They had arrived after untold weeks of misery, to a life
of uncertainty in an island that was, in terms of empire,
superfluous, in terms of the world, trivial. What had
driven them, these faceless ancestors of mine to undertake
a journey that, for them, must have been courageous in
the way of Columbus? For they could have known
nothing of Casaquemada [undoubtedly Trinidad] beyond
what the British Colonial officers, indenture papers in
hand and promises of land and money in mouth, had been
willing and able to tell them. What irreparable poverty
they had fled? What desperation had driven them? What
ignominy? What fear? What hope?"
Despite the tremendous difficulties of social, political,
religious, and cultural deprivation encountered by these
immigrants in the midst of their arduous labours on the
sugar estates, however, they were determined to succeed. A
quote from Neil Bissoondath, again, epitomizes the sensibilities and determination of the Hindu indentured labourers: "And that journey, the length of it, the unimaginable
horrors of it, seemed to me a melancholy epic. For they
had come bearing within them, the twin seeds of
achievement and unravelment. The urge to work, to
education, to wealth, came couched beside notions of
race, of hierarchy, of caste that would colour more and
more over the years our view of ourselves and of those
around us. Blacks we wrote off as lazy, Chinese dirty.
Moslems malicious, mulattoes impure. We retained an idea
of ourselves as racially superior, an arrogance reinforced by
the success of our efforts, proof presenting itself in every
new lawyer, every new doctor, every burgeoning
business."
.
According to Naipaul himself, the two factors which
most influenced him as a yOWlgwriter were the writing of
his father, Seepersad Naipaul, and his early life in Trinidad,
which included his colonial education and his unhappy
experience living within the extended family of his
father's in-laws, the. Capildeos. Speaking of this early life
in Trinidad, Naipaul feels that his environment stifled his
creativity. In an interview with Ronald Bryden, he
asserted: "I wonder how much was made in Trinidad? I've
often thought that if I'd started in another country I
would have star:ted from a higher base .... "
Dr Rampaul is the author of Vs. Naipaul's Empty Chapel:
His Background, Works. and Vision of The Third World.
Xlibris and Sugar Publishing Production, 2003.

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The Panchayat [village court] system in Trinidad
By Dr. Harry Ramnath
Fines and punishments are imposed according to the accused means or ability. There are no
jails or confinement rooms. The fine may be service of labour, money, or any other item of
value to compensate.
Panchayat is a local court comprising of people of a
village or district. Three or five persons are selected as
judges who are elected by individual votes of the
Pancha or the people. They sit and decide on the rights
or wrongs of issues before them - three, for minor
matters and five, for more serious ones. After all the
witnesses have testified, they come to a conclusion and
deliver their decisions. The decision taken is accepted by
the Pancha on a majority count. Fines and punishments
are imposed according to the accused means or ability.
, There are no jails or confinement rooms. The fine may
be service of labour, money, or any other item of value to
compensate the cost of the fine imposed. In the event the
accused has no money or item of value, he may render
services to the wronged party. If the person is found
guilty of misdemeanour, these services are to be given to
a mandir, ashrama, kuti or night shelter. No fine is
imposed in money on any person except in a case
where personal and material loss is suffered by the
Abhiyokta
or complainant.
For any type of social
misdemeanour, cash fines or service of labour are given
for the upkeep of charitable homes, ashrams, mandirs,
night shelters, or orphan homes.
Indian Immigrants, coming to the Caribbean, brought
many aspects of the Panchayat
System with them,
which. was honoured by many British Courts of Law.
The Panchayats began losing their worth when the
people
of Indian
descendants
became
Christian
converts. They respected the Bible as the medium upon
which they took oath in Law Courts.
In the British,
French and Dutch colonies,
because of a society
foreign to their own, the immigrants'
lawyers were
able to make the guilty innocent
and the innocent
guilty.
Many of the Panchayat laws are still used among
some Indian families where the elders of the family sit
as judges in arbitration. Sanatanist Hindus domiciled in
the west believed that the English Courts of Laws was the
last place any man should go to decide his family or village
problems. He feels that if he has won his case, he has also
lost, and when he loses, he has lost twice. If he w~.he
may have lost many days in court, and paid exorbitant
fees for legal advice and worst, he has made a paroosie or
neighbour an enemy. When he loses, he has lost all the
above-mentioned
conditions and his thaili or money bag
as well.
Panchayat laws are carried out in full accordance with
Dharma. The protection of Dharma is the main principle to

be preserved, for the deterioration
of Dharma means
spiritual decay as well as national chaos,
Ancient kings and rulers always had a team of wise
men in their courts. These men were chosen with great care
to oversee and superintend at the courts. (This is most
unlike the "cut-throat!" political elections we see today
that is falsely called democracy). All aspects of the rules of
law were maintained to the fullest. From time to time careful
and deligent changes were made so that the citizen praja
did not suffer from any sudden changes in the law. If and
when there were to be changes, the outgoing laws must
merge very slowly into the ones introduced.
Support to the panchayat system came from the Marquis
of Zetland He said: "This may come as a surprise to many to
learn that in the assemblies of Buddhists in India two
thousands years and more ago, are found the rudiments of
our own Parliamentary practice of the present day. The
dignity of the assembly was preserved by the appointment
of a special officer whose duty it was to see that when
necessary a quorum was secured, the prototype of the
Parliamentary Chief whip or Chabhok in our own system. A
member initiating business did so in the form of a motion,
which was then open for discussion. In some cases this was
done once only, in others, three times, thus anticipating the
practice of Parliament in requiring that a Bill be read a
third time before it becomes law. If discussion disclosed had
a difference of opinion the matter was decided by the vote of
the majority, the voting being carried out by ballot"
The progress of Indians domiciled in the Caribbean was due
largely to their faith in the Panchayat System. The wellknitted family, their consistency and well-regulated rules in
the home and at work, all have their roots in Panchayat. The
constant observation of one's behaviour and conduct in the
Pancha would be so regulated that it must not only reflect
his own image, but those of his family and the community.
He is taught that the observation so followed is not a credit
to himself but to those of.-his immediate relatives and
friends. In India, two thousands years and more ago, are
found the rudiments of our own Parliamentary practice of
the present day. The Panchayat system is also the mother of
Democracy, as the world knows it today. Democracy can
only be created
from a country whose citizens have
freedom of belief, freedom of speech and freedom of
movement.

Ramnath of Trinidad is the author of India came
West (1980), and the Unwritten Laws of Hinduism (1982)

Many
(C\ trav~llers

Vne]ourney

A people made a crossing
As did cultures, creeds, cuisines
We celebrate this journey
And cherish the traditions
That have passed undimmed
From one generation to another
On this

Indian Arrival Day

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Colonial newspaper articles on the 1884 Hosay massacre
One volley was fired - the scene was truly awful - there was a general stampede - one falling
upon another, but on the ground was strewn the apparently lifeless bodies.
New Era, November 10, 1884
On Thursday, the Hosein day, a terrible tragedy was
performed. All the time we thought it would be a mere
farce, or a comedy, but it ended far more serious. The
amount killed and wounded is not yet known, for they are
still bringing in new victims; every day we hear that there
are one hundred and seven wounded and killed, twelve of
them already sleeping in a martyr's grave, and many more
will follow soon, for nearly all are seriously wounded.
There is no doubt that the coolies were wrong to disobey
the law, but they never anticipated that they would have to
pay such a heavy penalty for their disobedience. It is a
great pity that the coolies have no one that they could
place confidence in, for if they had, they would listen to
them and not come to San Fernando with their Hoseys. We
all sympathise deeply with the poor sufferers - it seemed
that the whole of nature sympathized too, for the sun hid
his face for two days over the scene of blood, and all was
gloom. The next day it would have wrenched your heart to
see the processions of women and children going to the
hospital to see their dead and wounded husbands and
fathers.

New Era, November 10 1884
The scene as viewed from the Naparima Hill was simply
awful; from this spot, all the southern district presented a
grand panorama - a continuous block of men extended
from Les Efforts to Philippine, a distance of about three
miles. No effort on the part of the police scouts,
interpreters or planters could induce the foolish people not
to press into the town, but on they came, slowly, but with
the utmost glee, bounding into the air under the wildest
excitement, bent upon their foolish opposition to the law.
Of the 40 police and soldiers on Cipero Street, about 10
policemen marched to the front just at the southern
boundary of the town, and waiting till the rebels came
within about 40 feet. One volley was fired - the scene was
truly awful - there was a general stampede - one falling
upon another, but on the ground was strewn the apparently
lifeless bodies. The coolies then massed together on the
Union Hall iron bridge, where they evidently consulted,
and dispersed. The news actually electrified the whole
town, and on reaching the eastern boundary where the
greater number was expected, they were again warned by
the influential shopkeepers here, but all to no purpose; on
they came, and Captain Baker, who was himself at the
head of this (the largest) division, fired one volley (by 5

men only) but with telling effect. Fortunately, the rifles in
the front rank contained only buckshot, and fortunately
also, the order had been given to fire low, otherwise
instead of 10 killed and 92 wounded, hundreds would have
been killed on the spot. On the news reaching the northern
entrance of the town defended by Sergeant Giblan, the
coolies all scampered away, and threw their temples at
Guaracara River and Touruba Bay. This is certainly an
important epoch in the history of immigration in Trinidad.
It is feared that the people are only cowed, not conquered.
The planters, believing this, are armed to the teeth, it is
said ... It is really to be deeply regretted that the law had
to be upheld at this price; but I think however severe the
lesson, the law must be obeyed.

New Era, November 3, 1884. Editorial
. .. For days past public opinion had oscillated as to the
intended conduct of the coolies. There is no denying the
fact that, recently, they had been in a state of ferment from
causes other than religious sentiment; there had been
tension in the relationship between them and their
employers; they had not scrupled to take the law into their
own hands; and many timid minds had pictured the
possibility of the atrocities of another Cawnpore being reenacted here. The approaching Hosein, which itself is
always a most exciting cause to the Indian mind, added
much to the gravity of the situation and, we think, without
being called alarmists, that the Government would have
been wanting in duty if they had sat with folded hands
after the premonitory symptoms of coolie rebellion during
the past fortnight ... It was said, and as had been proved
afterwards, that they had been secretly arming themselves
for a bold resistance to legal authority, and had openly
uttered threats quite in harmony with the character of these
children of the desert. The Government, therefore, took
measures in case of necessity: the inevitable warship put in
an appearance in the Gulf; a fresh detachment of troops
had a few days before marched into the St. James Garrison
with all the pomp and circumstance which strikes the
beholder with the irresistible strength which Authority can
wield to maintain its power. The coolie saw, but simply
went on with his preparation for his fete ...
The news of the slaughter of the coolies has caused a
certain sensation in Port of Spain, where public opinion
does not approve of the policy. The Government is deemed
to have acted with undue severity ... we do not for one
moment attempt to screen the coolies when they violate
the law by violence, but we cannot disregard ...

I NEWS

ON HINDUS

Anthropologists find ancient habitation in
India
Scientists reported that they have found evidence of
the oldest human habitation in India, dating to two million
years, on the banks of the Subamarekha River. The 30mile stretch between Ghatshila in the province of
Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj
in Orissa has reportedly
yielded tools that suggested the site could be unique in the
world, with evidence of human habitation without a break
from 2 million years ago to 5,000 BCE.
Anthropologist
S.Chakraborty
told
the Calcutta
Telegraph: "There are no signs of terra incognito (a break
in the continuum) in the Subarnarekha valley, unlike any
other site in India. Some of the heavier tools resemble
those found in the East African stone-age shelters, used by
the Australopithecus." Chakraborty said the uninterrupted
habitation could make the site more important than even
the Aldovai Gorge in East Africa, the Somme Valley of
France, Stonehenge in England, the Narmada basin in
Madhya Pradeshorthe Velamadurai-Pallavaram
rectangle
in Tamil Nadu.

I

NEWS ON HINDUS

Britons getting a curried cheddar
Britons are about to sample an Indian-inspired
culinary delight - tandoori flavored cheese. Supermarket
chain Tesco is to start selling the cheese in 200 of its stores
by the end of next month, according to the Sunday
Telegraph Newspaper. "We are testing the water with the
tandoori cheese," a Tesco spokesman said. "If it goes well,
our technicians would probably need six to eight weeks to
rustle up something fish and chip flavored. Then
we could start looking at other things," the spokesman
said. "You could have tikka or vindaloo flavors, Thaiflavored cheeses or Chinese, based on the popularity of the
British takeaway menu."
Britons have become enthusiastic converts to foreign
food in recent decades and eat large amounts of takeout
indian, Chinese and Thai food. Cheddar, from southwest
England, is one of the country's best-loved cheese.
LONDON, ENGLAND, September 13, 2003.

CALCUTTA, INDIA, September 8, 2003.

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Moderately priced - Low season U.S.
$30 - $65 High season U.S. $50 - $75
plus room tax ( 10%) double occupancy.
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proximity to Store Bay and Pigeon Point beaches.

Pool facilities also available. Conveniently located
with access to shopping, restaurants and
sporting activities.
Tel: 1-868-639-8810 Fax: 1-868-639-7507
e-mail: sbaymair@cablenett.net.
Store Bay Local Road Crown Point Tobago,
West Indies.

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ALL

MA..JOR CREDIT

CARDS

ACCEPTED

TT$45 or US$25 (includes postage)
Chakra Publishing House (Caribbean)
LP 52, Swami Avenue, Don Miguel Road,
San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago,
Tel (868) 674-6008, 675-7707.
E-mail: mahab@tstt.net.tt

Head Office: - :38-42 Cipero Street. San Fernando
Tel: - (868) 657 -8935/ 8966 / 8077 / 8882
Representatives Nationwide

MOTOR AND PROPERTY INSURANCE SINCE 1958

For more Information contact
The Shri Murugan Foundation of Trinidad
Tel: 669-4953 & 751-3312





Brand Name
Size
Fibre Content in Percentage (%)
Care instructions permanently attached to the item
Country of origin

-FOOTWEAR




Every label tells a story. Reading labels is a good way to
get information on what you buy. A wise shopper uses
information on these labels to make better choices in
today's market place.
All labels on products covered by the Bureau's compulsory
standards must contain the information in English
required by the relevant standards.
When shopping for products such as garments, footwear,
electrical items and prepackaged goods, look for this
information on the labels.

-+

t.(

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
\!)BUREAU
OF STANDARDS
1·2 CENTURY DRIVE, TRINCITY INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, MACOYA, TUNAPUNA

Tel: (868) 662·TIBS (8827), 6634835/6'

Email: ttbs@ttbs.org.tt·

Website: www.ttbs.org.tt

Brand Name
Size
Composition (upper and lower)
Country of origin

-ELECTRICAL ITEMS







Brand Name or Trademark
Manufacturer or Distributor
Model#
Country of origin
Voltage 115V ± 5V
Frequency 60 Hz
Current (A) or Power (W)
Listing (UL, CSA, NOM-123, ETL)

-PRE-PACKAGED

GOODS

• Brand Name
• Type of Item
• Name and Address of Manufacturer or Distributor
• Country of origin
• Contents
• Composition
• Warnings - if applicable
• Instructions for use

invites you to taste the spiritual world

Arati, kirtan, japa meditation and Bhagavad
reading from 4:30am daily at:
Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha Mandir
Edinburgh Road, Longdenville
Ph: 665-2249
Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple
4 Orion Drive, Debe
Ph: 647-6809
Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir
Garden Village, Arouca
Sundays 5:00 pm
Bhakti Yoga Center
132 Aranguez Main Road, San Juan
Ph: 674-2961
Thursdays 7:00 pm
Chant the Hare Krsna Mantra:

hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
and make your life sublime

The need for scholarly discussion
By Rajiv Malhotra
The growing Indian Diaspora is gradually learning
how its heritage has been both portrayed and misportrayed in the American education system, and about the
urgency to engage the system along the same lines as is
already being done by other American minorities, such as
Jews, Muslims, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, AfricanAmericans,
Hispanics
and Native-Americans..
This
engagement requires the members of the Diaspora to be
equal participants at the discussion tables where Indian
traditions are the topic - including schools, colleges,
museums, media, political think tanks and corporate policy
meetings. However, getting such a seat involves a complex
process of negotiation, because the incumbents who are
entrenched in the institutions often see any power sharing
as a dilution of their authority.
Dating back to the earliest occupation of India by the
British, academic scholarship has often studied and
depicted India and its religious and cultural traditions as
consisting of the exotic cultures of distant and primitive
peoples. For generations, these views went unchallenged.
Although more recently, a number of educated Indians, as
well as contemporary American scholars, have sought to
stimulate a rethinking of this approach and bring into the
scholarly dialogue an expanding knowledge and awareness
of the traditions, a significant portion of the scholarly
community continues to adhere to and promote myopic
and outdated views.
Moreover, such scholarship sadly fails to acknowledge
that. the adherents of these traditions are not primitive
foreigners, but they are increasingly one's IndianAmerican neighbors, doctors, classmates and friends.
Furthermore, it fails to recognize that these traditions are
finding adherents among a significant
number of
Americans and other Westerners
who find them
compelling and important. Many Diaspora leaders have
opted not to articulate their indigenous viewpoint (many,
no doubt, never had a native Indian viewpoint in the first
place, having been raised in a Eurocentric education
system). Several spiritual leaders remain cocooned within
the security of their introverted spiritual groups, and lack
the required skills for successful negotiation in the global
context on behalf of their cultural identity. Therefore, it is
challenging to find knowledgeable individuals who are
committed to a fair and balanced approach to tradition, and
are willing to stick their necks out amidst a hostile
environment, whereas it is not hard to find atheist, Marxist
Indians in academia today, who are happy to trash Indian
traditions.
.

Extract from W\\w.sulekha.comJexpressions/colurnn
Rajiv Malhotra is affiliated to the
Infinity Foundation in New Jersey, USA.

Spicing-up the English Language
By Vijay Dutt
Beware do not say badmash loudly within the hearing
of an Angrez: They, the Goras, know the meaning. It is not
only the English food, which has been spiced up with the
Indian hot curry, but English too is being spiced with a
large number of Hindi words. In the latest edition of the
Oxford English Dictionary, there are a lot of Hindi words,
including Angrez and badmash. More Hindi words would
soon be entered into the Collins Bank of English. The
Queen's English is turning into Queen's 'Hinglish', thanks
to multiculturalism. Not only words but, slang such as
"innit" used extensively by the educated Asian young have
had a massive influence on the spoken English, especially
in inner cities where many Asian communities have taken
on a dominant role in the political, economic and social
life.
In Leicester or Birmingham achha, arre and amchey
are commonly understood. The popular spoof television
programmes like 'The Kumars at No 42' and 'Goodness
Gracious Me' that have commanded a large segment of
British viewers have had enormous impact on everyday
conversation in English, and the knowledge of Hindi
words. If the craze for the curry has brought in words like
balti, tikki, pulao and pappadom, music has introduced
bhangra, mujra and ghazal. The craze for Bollywood films
had added to the general awareness of Hindi words, even
abuses like sala. In cinema complexes like in Birmingham
and Leicester where at least in one movie hall four shows
of a Bollywood film are screened every day, many English
people can be spotted in the audience. They might not use
many words like theek, yaar, naach and gaana, but they
fully comprehend their meaning.
The term chuddies is now one word which is some
what in general use because of the popularity of 'Kumars
at No 42' and 'Goodness Gracious Me.' True, many
English people have learnt that it is not a word that should
be used in polite conversation or in front 'of ladies. But,
may be for fun or whatever many young English boys and
girls never hesitate to use the word in north England cities
like Bradford or Burnley.
A report in The Observer said that a study in
Birmingham looking at mixed groups of Sikhs and whites
in youth clubs found - that all white teenagers quickly
absorbed derogatory Punjabi words to use as insults. Churi,
lahenga, sari, ganja, cheetah, mehndi, sindoor, balti, and
masala are all understood and accepted words in most
High Street shops and in drawing room conversations. A
linguist at Reading University, Arfaan Khan expects a
whole new dialect to emerge soon. Collins Dictionary
editor-in-chief was quoted in The Observer. "This will be
an increasing trend ... "
Source: www.hindustantimes.com
LONDON, England, April 25, 2004.

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The medicinal uses of chaltaJelephant apple
COMMON NAME: Chalta (Hindi & Bengali); Elephant apple.
FAMILY: Dilleniaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Dillenia indica.
ORINGIN AND DISTRIBUTION
A native to India, Java and Philippines.
DESCRIPTION
• A spreading usually evergreen bushy-topped tree up to 9 m high.
• Leaves alternate, simple, dentate 46 cm long x 15 ern broad, oblanceolate, glabrous, dark green above with prominent
parallel veins.
• Flowers fragrant, white with golden stamens.
• Fruit fleshy, irregularly shaped, glabrous, green turning yellow when ripe. Seeds surrounded by a creamy brown aril.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION
The sepals contain 0.37 per cent tannin, 2.92 per cent glucose and 0.51 per cent malic acid.
MEDICINAL USES
• The acidic juice sweetened with sugar is used as cooling.
• In India the fruit is said to possess tonic and laxative properties, and is used for abdominal

pains.

EDIBLE USES
• The fleshy bracts around the fruit are used to make anchar, kuchila, jams and jellies.
• Slices of the fruit are used as flavouring in dahl.
OTHER USES
• In Asia, the rough leaves are used for polishing ivory.
• In Asia, the hard wood is used for boat-building, panelling, gunstocks, firewood and charcoal.
• The fruit-pulp is used to make a hair wash.

Extract from Medicinal and Edible plants used by East Indians of Trinidad and Tobago by Dr. Kumar Mahabir.
Chakra Publishing House, San Juan, Trinidad. Tel (868) 674-6008, 675-7707. E-Mail: mahab@tstt.net.tt

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Phone 868 622 6774, 868 628 8637 Fax: 868 628 'J1$j
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Kumar Mahabir
Written as a textbook for secondary schools
and as a collector's item for personal pleasure
Caribbeat1 Jt1~iat1Tolldales is an
interesting, authentic and useful book. It is the
first and largest collection of its kind to be
written in the original language of the
storytellers. The tales were tape-recorded in
English and transcribed with little or no editing
so as to maintain the rhythm of the narration.
~is
book consists of a collection of 25
stories which have been passed down from
generation to generation by word of mouth
from India to the Caribbean over a century and
a half. The tales were collected from traditionbearers in Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia
and Grenada since 1980.
This book is a valuable document of our language and
cultural practices.
-Professor Vibert C. Cambridge, Ph.D., Chair,
Department of African American Studies,
Ohio University.
It represents a major contribution
to the cultural
heritage of the Caribbean.
-R. Michael Ballantyne,
Founder and Past President of
The British Columbia Folklore Society, Canada.
Dr. Mahabir continues his brave effort in reconstructing
artifacts of Indo-Caribbean
culture which may
otherwise have disappeared.
-Dr Frank Birbalsingh, Professor of English,
York University.

Kumar
Mahabir
has
been
an
English/Literature teacher/lecturer for over
fifteen years in Trinidad and Tobago. He
received his BA and M.Phil degrees in English
from the University of the West Indies. He later
received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the
Universityof Florida.

Caribbeat1 1t1~iat1f'olktales
Collected by Kumar Mahabir
Colour Illustrations by

Angali Dabideen & Preddie Partap

English text.
San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago:
Chakra Publishing House.
2002. xi + 200 pp.
Glossary, index.
TT$40 or US$20 (includes postage)
Paperback. 14 x 21 cm.
ISBN 976-8180-20-0

Order copies by communicating to
Chakra Publishing House (Caribbean)
LP 52, Swami Avenue, Don Miguel Road,
San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago,
West Indies.
Tel (868) 674-6008, 675-7707.
E-mail: mahab@tstt.net.tt

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short story

Heart to heart
By Kamla Williams
The doctor tell him his cholesterol high high, and he had to change he diet one time.
Furthermore, he had to stop smoking and drinking and he had to start exercising. He tell the
doctor he will try, but he doesn't know ifhe mother could cook without oil.
It was two o'clock in the afternoon, the time of day
when silence reigned in Boundary Village. The school
children were still in school, the stay-at-home mothers
were either catching up on some sleep or some soap, the
younger ones tending their precious charges and the
pensioners were either dribbling or dreaming or both upon
their tired pillows after their midday meal. No sign of life
was seen on the street; not man, not motor, not mongrel.
I was beginning to feel a bit drowsy for I had just
eaten a heavy plate of my favourite meal: dhal and rice and
smoked herring choka. I was in the middle of deciding if I
should close the shop or not when suddenly I heard
someoneshouting my name.
"Miss Kay, Miss Kay!" It was Uncle Joe, retired
policeman. He was hurrying towards the shop as fast as his
slow legs could carry him.
"What wrong with you, Uncle Joe, somebody dead or
what?" I asked innocently.
"Oh God Miss Kay, Baboolal just drop down dead just
so, just so! They say he get a heart attack!"
"Is what you saying Uncle Joe? Baboolal? But
Baboolal ent have forty years good yet! How he could
dead from heart attack? He just married the other day. He
children still going primary school. How he could dead
arredy? He father dead a few years ago from heart attack,
but he was seventy-fiveyears old!"
Marajin was passing by at the same time, on her way
to pick up her grandson from nursery school. She stepped
into the shop to find out if I had heard the news.
"Yes, Uncle Joe tell me but I still can't believe how a
young, strong man so could die from a heart attack!"
"Well you better believe it, Miss Kay!" Marajin put
one hand on her sixty-five year old waist and with the
other hand, she began to point.
"Baboolal is the third young man I know about who
dead from heart attack for the year and we only in May
month. Let me tell you something, when my Sonnyboy
was thirty-six years old that is about five years ago, he
used to get a pain in he chest. The doctor tells him his
cholesterol high high, and he had to change he diet one
time. Furthermore, he had to stop smoking and drinking
and he had to start exercising. He tell the doctor he will
try, but he doesn't know if he mother could cook without
oil. The doctor tell him to tell he mother that if she wanted
she son to live longer, she better find a way to cook

without oil. Well when Sonnyboy come home and tell me
what the doctor say, I find a way to cook without oil one
time. And you wouldn't believe how easy it is to cook
without oil, or any other kind of grease. All you have to do
is cook with water instead of oil. At first you would have
to get accustom to the taste but in a little while the food
does start tasting good good. Since we stop cooking with
grease, Sonnyboy cholesterol reading good good and he
don't ever get the chest pain again!"
''Yes, but if you tell these young people that, they
won't listen to you! They feel that they young and strong
and they can't dead!" Uncle Joe started with his preaching
now.
"Time and time again you does hear on the radio and
the TV and read in the papers, that if you is a male, you
smoking and you drinking, you don't exercise and you
eating greasy food black is white, then you is what they
call high-risk, especially if somebody in your family dead
with a heart attack arredy! You could drop down anytime!
You is a walking candidate for a coffin! Marajin girl, is a
good thing Sonnyboy check up on herself yes, and you
mash brakes on the grease, otherwise we might have to
bury Sonnyboy long time.
At this time the soft drink van pulled up. As the
salesman stepped into the shop, he must have seen our
long faces for he asked, "Somebody dead or what?"
Instead of his usual, "How much case you want today?"
''Yes boy, a young fella just kick the bucket! They say
is a heart attack he get!" I answered somberly.
Then the salesman began to relate to us about the
recent death of a young woman in his village, the cause of
death being heart attack. I thought of the potspoon of oil I
had put in the dhal and in the smoked herring. I felt it turn
over in my stomach.

Kamla Williams teaches Adult Literacy in Port of Spain.

Satya Bhavan
Puja & Variety
Congratulations to the
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For high quality Gold & Silver Jewellery
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LOTfERY
CLA$$IC

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