Thursday November 15, 2018
Home Indian Diaspora Indian influe...

Indian influence on Jamaica and Rastafarianism

Jamaica is a country in The West Indies. East Indians form <1 % of total population. Jamaican culture is influenced by Indian culture. Rastafari religious belief is considerably influenced by Hindu spiritual beliefs and practices

0
//
Image source: jablogz.com
Republish
Reprint

By Shubhi Mangla

The popular music form, Reggae has been acknowledged by a large number of people around the world. This form of music has actually originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. Reggae involves a powerful four-beat rhythm through drums, electric guitar, bass guitar and the scraper. The rhythms of Reggae soon emerged as Jamaica’s leading modern music and its diaspora. Reggae, gained international recognition and was soon popular in countries like US, Britain and Africa.

Reggae music- wikimedia commons
Reggae music- wikimedia commons

Jamaica, an island in the West Indies to the south of Cuba and west of Haiti is mostly linked to Africa owing to the large population of African descent present there. The island has a rich heritage, glorious history and is a fusion of diverse cultures. However, Jamaica has also been largely influenced by the Hindu culture which still remains highly unacknowledged.

Indian influence on Jamaican cuisine

Jamaican Curry Goat
Jamaican Curry Goat

An important element of Indian influence on Jamaican culture is its cuisine. Jamaican food consists of a good usage of curry leaves. Curried chicken and goat dishes are the most popular dishes of Jamaica. Locals and tourists are mostly served with curried shrimp, curries red snapper, curried lobster etc. More health conscious citizens and visitors are treated with curry vegetables. Roti and curry goat even form a part of the island’s national cuisine. Indian chutneys and hot sauces are also adopted by Jamaica’s culinary cuisine. One can easily be fascinated with the Jamaican cuisine due to this Indian flavors.

Indian arrival in Jamaica

Indian migrant workers in Jamaica- Wikimedia commons
Indian migrant workers in Jamaica- Wikimedia commons

According to livity.info, Jamaica first saw the arrival of Indians on May 10, 1845, who came to work in the sugar plantations of Clarendon, the island’s third largest church community. Their main aim was to replace the liberated African laborers who refused to work for their masters. Indians had friendly relation with African descent in Jamaica at first; hence Jamaican Africans accepted many of the Indian cultures and practices. Indians now form the third largest part of Jamaican society.

Rastafarianism and Indian influence

At the time when Reggae music was gaining dominance, Rastafarianism was growing in Jamaica. Rastafarianism began in Jamaica in 1920s and 1930s. Rastafarians believed in Jainism and Christianity and worshipped Judeo-Christian God, Jah. According to releigonfacts.com, “The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one’s hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism”.

The leading father of Rastafarianism, Leonard Percival Howard belonged to Clarendon and grew up amongst Indians and Hindu culture. Howard believed in various Hindu rituals, their ceremonies of worshipping God, chanting “Jai Mata Di” and drinking bhang/ ganja, which are sweet flavored liquid consisting of little amount of alcohol. The practice of Ganja consumption was brought by Indian apprenticed workers which was known to cure all ills and also for religious purposes and vegetarian food. The main achievement was not food but the spread of spirituality. The early Rastafarian tenets were also influenced by Indian astronomy.

Leonard Percival Howell- twitter.com
Leonard Percival Howell- twitter.com

Leonard Percival Howard, who preached African ancestry and was a nature lover, borrowed many dogmas of the Rastafarian movement from the Indians. The Rastafarians also adopted the Ital diet which is of the idea that our body is a temple and it should be kept pure. Thus, it focused on eating vegetarian food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans etc.). The diet came to be known as the Rastafarian diet. This high disciplined diet of vegetarianism was known to be influenced from the Indian servants who were vegetarians following an age old tradition in Hindu culture.

Ganja- wikimedia commons
Ganja- wikimedia commons

Jamaicans who lived in the countryside amongst Indians and Rastafarians were majorly utilizing Ganja/marijuana for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Though Africans used Marijuana for similar purpose, but it is Indians who were responsible for its arrival in Jamaica. People of African descent made use of this ‘herb’ for ceremonial practices. Those who practiced Kumina (an Afro-Jamaican culture which practiced western culture) also used marijuana in order to communicate with their ancestors.

Leonard’s Hindu influence was also acknowledged by Joseph Hibbert, another funding father of the Rastafarian movement in an interview with Leonard’s biographer Helene Lee who said, “After learning about the Hindu God incarnates Rama, Krishna and Buddha, Howell was convinced that every nation had their own God”. Leonard considered Emperor Selassie of Ethiopia as his African God.

Robert Nesta Marley, a popular face of reggae and Rastafari, was nicknamed as “Tuff Gong” associated to Leonard Howell who was known as Gong. The term “Gangunguru” means ‘Great King’ or ‘king of kings’ in the Hindi language as proclaimed by the book “Dread History” by Professor Robert A Hill.

Even today, Jamaica holds a significant population of Indians who are more segregated as compared to their early arrival. Most of the Indians in Jamaica are merchants who look down upon the Afro-Jamaicans. Irrespective of their present dogmatism, they must be appreciated for their contribution towards Rastafarianism and the Jamaican culture at large.

References:

http://www.religionfacts.com/rastafarianism

Shubhi Mangla is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. She is currently working as an intern at Newsgram.

Follow her on twitter @shubhi_mangla

 

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

WhatsApp Announces 20 Teams To Curb Fake News Globally

In India, WhatsApp has partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to train community leaders in several states on how to address misinformation

0
WhatsApp
WhatsApp selects 20 teams to curb fake news globally, including India. Pixabay

Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday announced that it has selected 20 research teams worldwide – including experts from India and those of Indian origin — who will work towards how misinformation spreads and what additional steps the mobile messaging platform could take to curb fake news.

Shakuntala Banaji from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Anushi Agrawal and Nihal Passanha from Bengaluru-based media and arts collective “Maraa” and Ramnath Bhat from LSE have been selected for the paper titled “WhatsApp Vigilantes? WhatsApp messages and mob violence in India”.

The research examines the ways in which WhatsApp users understand and find solutions to the spate of “WhatsApp lynchings” that has killed over 30 people so far.

The Indian government has also directed WhatsApp to take necessary remedial measures to prevent proliferation of fake and, at times, motivated/sensational messages on its platform.

Among others selected were Vineet Kumar from Ranchi-headquartered Cyber Peace Foundation (principal investigator), Amrita Choudhary, President of the Delhi-based non-profit Cyber Café Association of India (CCAOI) and Anand Raje from Cyber Peace Foundation.

They will work as a team on the paper titled “Digital literacy and impact of misinformation on emerging digital societies”.

P.N. Vasanti from Centre for Media Studies in New Delhi woll work withS. Shyam Sundar, The Pennsylvania State University (Principal Investigator) to examine the role of content modality in vulnerability to misinformation, under the topic titled “Seeing is Believing: Is Video Modality More Powerful in Spreading Fake News?”

WhatsApp had issued a call for papers in July this year and received proposals from over 600 research teams around the world.

“Each of the 20 research teams will receive up to $50,000 for their project (for a total of $1 million),” WhatsApp said in a statement.

Lipika Kamra from O.P. Jindal Global University and Philippa Williams from the Queen Mary University of London (Principal Investigator) will examine the role of WhatsApp in everyday political conversations in India, in the context of India’s social media ecosystem.

According to Mrinalini Rao, lead researcher at WhatsApp, the platform cares deeply about the safety of its over 1.5 billion monthly active users globally and over 200 million users in India.

whatsapp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“We appreciate the opportunity to learn from these international experts about how we can continue to help address the impact of misinformation,” Rao said.

“These studies will help us build upon recent changes we have made within WhatsApp and support broad education campaigns to help keep people safe,” she added.

The recipients are from countries including Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, the UK and US.

WhatsApp said it is hosting them in California this week so they can hear from product leaders about how it builds its product.

“Given the nature of private messaging – where 90 per cent of the messages sent are between two people and group sizes are strictly limited – our focus remains on educating and empowering users and proactively tackling abuse,” said the company.

WhatsApp recently implemented a “forward label” to inform users when they received a message that was not originally written by their friend or loved one. To tackle abuse, WhatApp has also set a limit on how many forwards can be sent.

In India, WhatsApp has partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to train community leaders in several states on how to address misinformation.

Also Read- Facebook Blocks Accounts Engaged in Malicious Activities

“We are also running ads in several languages — in print, online, and on over 100 radio stations — amounting to the largest public education campaign on misinformation anywhere in the world,” the company noted.

Sayan Banerjee from University of Essex, Srinjoy Bose from University of New South Wales and Robert A. Johns from University of Essex will study “Misinformation in Diverse Societies, Political Behaviour & Good Governance”.

Santosh Vijaykumar from Northumbria University, Arun Nair from Health Systems Research India Initiative and Venkat Chilukuri, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology are part of the team that will study “Misinformation Vulnerabilities among Elderly during Disease Outbreaks”. (IANS)