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THEEASTINDIANS:INDIANARRIVALDAY

ORIGINS

IndianArrivalDay,celebratedon30thMay,commemoratesthearrivalofthefirstIndian
IndenturedlabourersfromIndiatoTrinidad,inMay1845.IndiansmigratedtoTrinidad
underthesystemofIndianindentureship.Mostoftheseindenturedlabourersweredrawn
fromtheagriculturalandlaboringclassestosolvethelabourproblemsplantationsinthe
Caribbeanfacedduetoemancipationin1838.

HOWTHEYCAME

ThetheEastIndianswerebroughttoTrinidadandTobagoontheshipcalledtheFatel
Razack.ThejourneywaslongastheysaileddowntheIndianoceanorthekalapani
meaningblackwaters,aroundtheCapeofGoodHopeandupintotheAtlanticocean.This
journeylastedforthree(3)months.

CONTRIBUTIONSMADEBYTHEEASTINDIANS

Astheyweregraduallytransformedfromimmigrantlabourerstosettlers,theIndians
contributedagreatdealtotheirnewsocietybypractisingtheirrichdiversityofreligiousand
culturalforms.Templesandmosqueswerebuilt,HinduandMuslimfestivalswere
introduced.Indiandance,musicandsongenrichedthealreadycomplexTrinidadculture,as
didIndiancuisine,artsandcrafts.Asindenturedlabourerstheymadetremendoussacrifices
inanefforttopreservetherichnessandpurenessofasocialsystemcompletewithdifferent
ritesandrituals,feastsandfestivalsandreligiousandmoralvalues.

RELIGION,RELIGIOUSOBSERVANCESANDLANGUAGE.

RELIGION,RELIGIOUSOBSERVATIONSANDLANGUAGES

TheoverwhelmingmajorityofIndianindenturedlaborersconsideredthemselvesHindus
thereforepracticeoftheirreligionentailedmakingofferings(insomecases,animal
sacrifices)toguardianspiritsandtodivinitiesatshrinesandsmalltemples,alongwith
observingcalendricalholidaysandeventssuchas
Diwali
(afestivaloflights)andHoli(also
knownas
Phagwa
aspringtimefestivalofplayandsinging).Inaddition,
pujas
(ceremonies

involvingprayers,offerings,andacelebratoryfeast)weresponsoredbyfamiliesonbirthdays
ortogivethanksforgoodfortune.
Also,someoftheIndianindenturedlabourerswere
ObservantMuslimswhomarkyearlycalendricaleventsandadheretotraditionalMuslim
practicessuchasdailyprayerandfastingduringthemonthofRamadan.OneMuslim
calendricaleventknowninTrinidadas"Hosein"or,morepopularly,as"Hosay"hasbeen
cooptedbynonMuslimsandevennonIndiansintoaversionofCarnival,muchtothe
resentmentofpiousMuslim
EastIndianswhocametotheCaribbeaninitiallycamefromvariousregionsinIndia,each
withitsownlanguageandcustoms.However,bythelate19thcenturytherewasless
diversityinlanguageasthemajorityofimmigrantsoriginatedfromUttarPradesh.The
inhabitantsofthisregionspokeBhojpuri,aHindidialect,whichbecamethesharedand
unifyinglanguageforEastIndiansinTrinidad.

CLOTHING

WOMENSTRADITIONALDRESS

THESARI
The
sari
(saree)isthemostpopularoutergarmentofwomenoftheIndiansubcontinent.It
consistsofapieceofsilk,cottonorsyntheticcloth,fivetosevenyardslongwhichisworn
wrappedaroundthebodywiththeendlefthanging(thepallu)orusedovertheheadasa
hood.Theborderofasariisusuallyembroideredandthisisoftenastatussymbol.Also
differentregionsofIndiahavespecificmethodsofwrappingthecloth.Ashorttightfitting
blousecalledacholiisusuallywornunderthesari.

THESHALWAR

The
shalwar
(salwar)isapairoflightloosefittingtrouserswithatightfitaroundtheankles.
ThisisusuallywornbyEastIndianwomenwitha
kameez
whichisalongtunicextendingto
thehipsorknees.Amatching
dupatta
(anunstitchedlengthofmaterialdrapedovertheupper
body)isalsopartofthisoutfit.

THELENGHA

The
lengha
(lehnga)isoneofSouthAsia'sfavouritegarments,wornfrequentlyatweddings
andotherformaloccasions.Itisalongskirtworneitherwithacholioralongerkurtitop
(tunic).Lenghaskirtscomeinmanyvarietieswhicharedescribedbelow:
Gaghara
Afullflaredskirt,usuallywithabroadfittedbeltaroundthewaist(as
wornbythismodel).
Garara
Adividedskirt,similartoculottesorflaredbellbottoms.
Sharara

Thisissimilartothegaghara,butitiscutinanAlinepatternandtheflare
usuallybeginsattheknees.

MEN'SCLOTHING

KURTAANDPAIJAMAS(Pyjamas)

The
kurta
isaloosecollarlessshirtwornbybothmenandwomen,usuallywith
paijamas
(drawstringtrousers),a
shalwar
,orchuridars(tighttrousers).Thisensemblealsoincludesa
bandi
(shortjacketorwaistcoat)anda
dupatta
.

THEDHOTI

The
dhoti
isastyleofEastIndianmen'swear.Itisformedbywrappingapieceofclothina
specificmanneraboutthewaistandlegs.Itisusuallywhiteorcreamincolour.

EASTINDIANFOOD


FOOD

TheindenturedlabourerswhocametoTrinidadbroughtwiththemtheirownEastIndian
cuisine,completewithtraditionalseasoningsandwaysofcooking.Mostimportantoftheir
spiceswerethecurries.InTrinidadandTobagomostHindiwordsincommonusetoday
relatetothekitchenandfood.Overtimefoodssuchasroti,doubles,saheena,katchowrie,
barah,ancharandpholouriehavebecomehouseholdnamesandareconsumedbyawide
crosssectionofthesociety.Today,EastIndiandishesarepartofthenationalcuisineof
TrinidadandTobago.

EASTINDIANFOOD

SAVORYDISHESSWEETSROTI
CurriedMixedVegetables

ParsadSada
CurriedChannaandPotato(ChickPeas)LadooDosti
CurriedChataigneBarfiParatha
DhalGoolabJamoonDhalpourie
Eggplant(Melongene)ChokhaKurmaAloopourie
MangoTalkariRasGulla
Jellaby
Goolgoolah(Ripefig)

Sawine

VEGETABLES

BaiganEggplant
AlooPotato
DamadolTomato
DhalSplitPeas
NarielCoconut
BhaatCookedRice
TarkareeCookedVegetables
GheeClarifiedButter
BandhaniyaShadonBeni
CariliBitterGo

EASTINDIANFOODS
SavoryDishes

Sweets


Vegetables

MUSICALINSTRUMENTS

MUSICALINSTRUMENTS

Musicwasandstillis,afundamentalpartofthevariousIndianfestivals.Consequently,theIndians
broughttheirmusicalinstrumentswiththemwhentheymigratedtoTrinidad.

AnumberofthesemusicalinstrumentswerepreviouslyunknownintheWestIndies.These
includethetassa,tabla,dholak,majeera,bansoori,sitarandharmonium.

Themostpopularmusicalinstrumentswerethedrums,ofwhichtherewereseveraltypes.There
wasthedholak,whichprovidedtherhythmformostofthefolksongs.Itisacylindrical,
doubleheadeddrumwhichisbeatenonbothsides.Thelargersideprovidesthebassandthesmaller
sidethetenor.

Therewasalsothetassadrumwhichismadeofclaycoveredwithgoat'sskin.Itisbeatenwitha
pairofsticks.Usuallyseveraltassadrumsareplayedtogetherbyagroupofpeople.Thetassadrums
areusedatweddings,GathkadancingandHosaycelebrations.

Thetabla,whichwasintroducedintoIndiabytheMuslimsofPersiawasanothertypeofdrum
whichwasanessentialaccompanimenttomostmusicalperformances.Itconsistsofapairofdrums
onelargeandonemediumsizedwhichisplayedwithbothhandsononeend.

TheNagaradrumshavealeatherfaceandaclaybase.Likethetassa,theyarebeatenwithapair
ofsticks,andareplayedinAhirdancingandatBirahasinging.Inadditiontherewasthebansoori,
whichisabambooflutewithsevenholes,andtheharmonium,whichresemblesanorgan,andhas
bellowswhichpumpwindintothereedcompartment.

Therearealsothejhal,majeeraandsitar.Theformerconsistsofapairofcymbalsheldinthe
handandstruckagainsteachother.
Themajeera,whichformspartoftherhythmsectionofanIndianorchestra,ismadeupoftwobrass
cupsheldtogetherbyastring.Thesecupsarestruckagainsteachother.

Thesitarisanadaptationofthevina,withthesoundboardnestingonagourdsimilartoa
pumpkin.Thefaceofthesitarismadeofhandworkedteakoverwhichtherearesevenupperstrings
andeleventotwelvelowerstringswhichvibrateinresonancetothenotespluckedontheupper
principalstrings.

Inadditiontothemusicalinstrumentstheybroughtwiththem,theIndiansfashionedanew
instrumenttheDhantalfromtheirenvironmentonthesugarestates.Thedhantalwasalongsteel
rodwhichwasadaptedfromtheprongusedtoconnecttheyokesofthebullocksthattransportedthe
canefilledcartsontheestates.Themetalhorseshoeusedontheestatehorsesandmuleswasusedto
strikethedhantal.Inthiswaythedhantalbecameanewinstrumentforprovidingrhythm.

EASTINDIANUTENSILS

EASTINDIANUTENSILS

Inadditiontothetheircuisine,theEastIndiansalsohavespecialcookingutensils.
Belowisalistoftheseutensilsandtheirdescription.

UTENSILDESCRIPTIONUTENSILDESCRIPTION
Tawa
Belna
Chauki
Dabila
Puchara
Chulah
Pukni
Chimta
Karahi

Bakingstone
Rollingpin
Pasteboard
Flatwoodenspoon
Cottonbrushforoil
Fireside
Longhollowpipe
Tongs
Cauldron(bigpot)

Sup
Saphee
Dhallghotni
Okhri
Musar
Sil
Lorha
Jharu

Strainer
Kitchentowel
Swizzlestick
Mortar
Pestle
Grindstone(used
withLorha)
Handheldstone
grinder
Cocoyeabroom

EASTINDIANDANCE

EASTINDIANDANCE
WhentheEastIndianIndenturedlabourerscametoTrinidadandTobagotheybroughtwith
themtheircultureandtraditions,amongwhichwastheirdance.
Infactdancingwaspartoftheirreligiousritualandwasusedasameansofphrasingand
worshippingtheirgods.
SomeformsofEastIndianclassicaldanceinTrinidadandTobagoinclude:
Odissi
Bharatanatyam
Kathakali(mainlyperformedbymales)
Kathak
Also,indianfolkdanceaswellascontemporary/Bollywoodindiandanceareperformed.
Overtheyears,thisartformwasexpandedtoembracechangesinmusicandcultural
influencesfromourmultiethnicsociety.Indeedtheartformchangedsomewhatfromthe
religiousritualstoincludeceremonial,socialandrecreationalaspectsofthesociety.
TheinfluenceofIndianfilmsontheIndiancommunityinTrinidadandTobagohasalso
causedashiftintowardsthemesofmerrimentandgaiety.Thisinfluencemayhavebeenthe
catalystforwhatisregardednowasChutneyDancingwhichisthemoresuggestiveformof
Indiandance.

EASTINDIANVILLAGESINTRINIDADANDTOBAGO

TheinfluencesoftheIndianImmigrantarenotonlyinthetypeoffoodstheyintroducedinto
thecoloniesorthetypeofclothingtheywore.Theygobeyondfood,clothing,language,
religionandculturalartformsandincludethenamesofplaceswhicharesimilartothosein
India.
Itmaybeinterestingtonotethatatonepointintimethepresentdaytownof
St.James
was
referredtoas'coolie'townsincetherewasathrivingsugarcaneplantationinthatarea,and
manyimmigrantsfromIndialivedthereafterindentureshipwasterminatedin1917.Someof
thestreetsintheheartofthetowncanbeartestimonytothisIndianinfluenceasisevidenced
bythenamesofsomeoftheprominentstreetssuchasBanaresStreet,AgraStreet,
Bombay
Streetand
Lucknow
Streettonameafew.
Barrackpore

aswellas
Fyzabad
,sometimeswrittenas
Faizabad
,havetheirorigininIndia,
and,peopleofIndianorigininTrinidadhavetravelledtotheseregionsseveralthousandsof
milesawayinsearchoftheirancestralrootsafeatthathasbeensuccessfullyaccomplished
bymany.
Thevillageof
Kandahar

alongthefoothillsoftheNorthernRangeintheCaneFarm/Five
Riversarea.
Kandahar
isaregioninAfghanistanfromwherepeopleofIslamicfaithhad
migratedtotheCaribbeanandtoTrinidadinparticular.

Chandanagore
isacommunityincentralTrinidad.Peoplesometimesrefertoitas
Chanagar
or
Chandinagar
.Whateverthecalling,thedistrictderivesitsnameafteraregion
inIndiafromwhereimmigrantscametoTrinidad.