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Indian Arrival Day : Remembering the hardships of Indians who were brought as Indentured labourers

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By Pashchiema Bhatia

Indian Arrival Day is celebrated for remembering the days on which the Indians first wave arrived on the land of other countries. It is celebrated on various days in the nations of Caribbean, in the Latin-American nations and also in Mauritius. The people of Indian origin who migrated to these countries were mainly brought as indentured laborers by British colonial authorities. These days are not only celebrated as holidays but also various cultural events are held by people of Indian origin. These are the countries where these days are celebrated with great enthusiasm –

Jamaica

Indian Arrival Day is celebrated on May 10 in Jamaica which coincides with Mothers’ Day and is carved in the hearts of Indo-Jamaicans. They also celebrate this day as ‘Roti Festival’ or the ‘Indian Heritage Day’. Jamaica is a country which is ranked high in terms of preserving the Indian culture.

Indians In Jamaica
Indians In Jamaica

Related Article : The Indian Diaspora in Jamaica

Guyana

The indentured laborers landed the nation on May 8, 1838 to work in Sugar plantations. The holiday in the commemoration of first arrival of Indians is celebrated on May 5 as Indian Arrival Day. Today, around 44% of Guyana population is of Indian origin.

Trinidad and Tobago

The ship named ‘Fatel Razak’ not only brought indentured laborers but also a group of people with different culture which further integrated. In 1994, 30 May was declared an official holiday and was celebrated as Arrival Day which was later renamed Indian Arrival Day. On this day, every year, people gather on various beaches throughout Trinidad and Tobago and celebrate this event with music and dance.

East Indians on a Trinidad Cocoa Estate, Wikimedia Commons
East Indians on a Trinidad Cocoa Estate, Wikimedia Commons

Suriname

On 5 June 1873, the first ship named ‘Lala Rookh’ arrived in Paramaribo, capital of Suriname carrying 452 Indians. On this day, June 5, Suriname commemorates the arrival of Indians and the migrated Indians pay tribute to statue of Indian ancestors ‘Baba en Mai’ (Father and mother) which is located at the place where the Indians first arrived.

Mauritius

Mauritius is sometimes also referred as Chota Bharat (mini India). More than 60% population of Mauritius is of Indian origin and they celebrate this day on a large scale on November 2. Apravasi Ghat is the center of celebration as it signifies the struggles faced by the Indian ancestors after they arrived.

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @pashchiema

 

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

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Gandhi
Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean