Saturday, July 4, 2020
Home Indian Diaspora Dougla (Dogla): The mixed Ancestry

Dougla (Dogla): The mixed Ancestry

"Dougla" identity is just another example of the diverse and varied population found in the Caribbean

by Shubhi Mangla

Introduction

Douglas (Doglas) are basically the people of mixed ancestry of Indians and Africans. In the secondary sense, Douglas, carries the meaning of an impure blood and calls the person an illegitimate child. The term originated from the Bhojpuri or Hindi word “Doogala”. According to Ferne Louanne Regis of The University of West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, in her paper presented at The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2013:  “The word Dougla  is linked to dogla which is of Indic origin and is defined by Platts (1884, p.534) as a person of impure breed, a hybrid, a mongrel; a two-faced or deceitful person and a hypocrite.”

In Martinique, people of mixed Indian and African descent are called chappè (escaped) or èchappè(escaped). Its literal meaning is a person who escaped from being a pure Indian. In Guadeloupe, these people are termed as batta coolie or batta-zendeyn, wherein batta means “bastard” but intends to give a sense of mixed rather than a negative meaning.

The people who are called ‘Dougla’ do not always look similar. They do have some differences in their features. Dougla people mostly have thick black wavy hair and a rich brown skin with a slight undertone.

From You Tube: Mighty Dougla - Split Me In Two
From You Tube

History

  • The very first records of the Douglas were the result of the interaction between Indian men and African women. At that time, Indian women were considered a minority among the migrants. Women did not cross Atlantic as they assumed themselves unfit for labor and feared exploitation.
  • Preservation of their Hindu culture and religious practices was highly important for the laborers who took voyage across the Atlantic. Indulging in non-religious practices who did not belong to their community was considered a compromise with their religion, descent and culture. It was considered crucial for surviving in a foreign land.
  • Indians did not arrive in the British Caribbean with an intention to reside permanently. Their main goal was to achieve material wealth and return to their homeland. But this took a lot of time. Thus, the Douglas represents the delay of such goals.

Guyana

Guyana has the largest population of Douglas. Half of the population in Guyana comprises of Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese. The doula population in Guyana rose in the post-independence period due to urbanization, socialization, Inter-ethnic marriages, occupations and inter-religious activities. Most of the douglas are youngsters, particularly below 40 years of age. Presently, Douglas comprise of 17% of Guyanese population. Douglas are now starting to put forward their heritage.

Trinidad

The term Douglas is used by Indian-Trinidadians and African-Trinidadians. Black and Indian tend are used to observe the purity standards. Douglas get to choose their own identity. If they look like afro-Trinidadians, they choose black and choose Indian if they look more like Indo-Trinidadians. It is known that the Indo-Trinidadians are more religious, ethnic and rigid to its culture and tend to mix less with other communities as compared to Afro-Trinidadians. In Trinidad, Douglas can also alienate themselves from both the groups and claim them simply as Trinidadian. Hence, gaining national or ethnic identity.

Conclusion

Dr. Elizabeth Rosabelle Sieusarran, a professor at the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Education, delivered a speech at the official launch of the Indian Arrival Day Heritage Village set up by the El Dorado Shiv Mandir. She said that it is up to East Indians in Trinidad to decide whether want to accept douglas, mixed-race people of Indian and African descent, or outcast them from their community. She said, “In our quest for establishing unity among our people it is imperative for us to note a rapidly increasing phenomenon from the rise of a western system of education and the consequential westernization of the Indian community. This has resulted in the prevalence of inter-caste, inter-religious and inter-racial marriages. The Indian community has to decide how to handle the offspring of this significant group locally referred to as douglas. Do we accept them or ostracize them? Whatever course is adopted, the fragmentation of the Indian community must be avoided. Above all, we must always remember that Trinidad and Tobago is our patrimony. Our ancestors gave their blood and we have labored to enrich our country. We live in a multi-cultural society and co-existence is a necessary ingredient for our success in the future”.

Shubhi is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi, India. She is currently working as an intern in Newsgram. Twitter @shubhi_mangla

References

http://iafor.org/archives/offprints/acah2013-offprints/ACAH2013_0315.pdf

http://www.afropedea.org/dougla

http://www.landofsixpeoples.com/news603/ns60930.html

STAY CONNECTED

19,001FansLike
362FollowersFollow
1,779FollowersFollow

Most Popular

Facebook, Instagram to Encourage Users to Wear Face Masks in US

Both Facebook and Instagram will now show an alert on top of the News Feed to encourage users to wear face masks in the...

DIY Tools, Products See a 90% Sale Rise

Indians seem to be completing minor home repairs themselves as they limit outsider entry into their interior spaces, as an e-commerce platform sees fast...

Everything You Need to Know About Pro-Touring

If you hang around car enthusiasts for long enough, there are certain words you become familiar with. Now, being familiar with a word doesn't...

Skincare Essentials Everyone Should Have This Monsoon

Monsoon takes a toll on your skin and hair. Frizzy hair, lackluster skin, and chapped lips are all a result of the humidity. Whether...

Indian Origin Cardiologist Agrees to Pay $400K to Settle False Allegations

By Arul Louis An Indian origin cardiologist and the administrator of her company have agreed to pay $400,000 to settle allegations that they submitted irregular...

Early Marriage is Found to be Unhappy, Says Research

Want to get married at a very young age? Kindly take note. Researchers have found that early marriage may lead to unsafe drinking behavior...

Essential Facts and Details about the Vedas That Pertain To Hindu Dharma

Vedas have influenced ancient Indian society greatly and have become a crucial part in the forming of the Hindu dharma. Although the knowledge the...

PETA Starts Campaign to Stop Sacrifice of Goats on Bakra Eid

A month before the festival of Bakra Eid, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has started a campaign to stop...

Recent Comments