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The Indian Diaspora in Jamaica

Jamaica, situated in the Caribbean Sea, is ranked high in terms of maintaining the Indian culture

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map of Jamaica, www.hercampus.com

By Pashchiema    

History of Indian Diaspora in Jamaica

  • Jamaica is an island nation in the West Indies.
  • The Indian connection with Jamaica is 170 years old. The history of Indian Diaspora started with the arrival of over 36,000 Indians as indentured workers to Jamaica between 1845 and 1917. As the Indian labourers had proved their worth in Mauritius where the conditions were very similar, they were brought to Jamaica to work, mainly in sugarcane plantations as there was unavailability of workers after the end of slavery in 1830.
  • On May 10, 1845, the first ship, Maidstone, arrived at Old Harbour Bay carrying the first group of workers from India.
  • Although, many Indians were planning to return to India but the planters and the Indian government did not encourage the return of Indian workers. During a period of time they were not allowed to leave the plantations, on pain of fines or even imprisonment
  • Even though, majority of immigrants were Hindus but Non-Christian unions were not recognised until 1956 and hence many had to adopt Christianity.
  • The final group of workers landed in Jamaica in 1914 and over half of the Indians who had arrived till 1917 settled in Jamaica and gradually the Indian community began to develop.
  • The Indo-Jamaicans went into trading and setting up their small enterprises and over the decades accountants and managers were recruited from India to work in these enterprises.
  • The Indian community grew further as they started taking up jobs as Indian expatriates such as professors, managers, supervisors, doctors and many other professionals.

 

Jamaica is located in the West Indies. Wikimedia Commons
Jamaica is located in the West Indies. Wikimedia Commons

 Indians in Jamaica today

  • As most of the Indians are descendants of indentured workers, it has largely influenced the facets of farming, medicine, cuisine and politics.
  • Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the same way as it is celebrated in India. Every year in the month of October and November, houses are cleaned and brightly lit.
  • Today, 81,500 Indians live in Jamaica which constitutes about 3 per cent of its population of 2.7 million.
  • The Indian influence on Jamaican life can be seen in the traditional Indian foods such as goat curry, rice, roti and a variety of spinach called callaloo dishes which have a become part of the national cuisine.
  • Indian workers also introduced ‘Marijuana’ and chillum pipe into the island.
  • Indian jewellery, in the form of tortuously shaped gold bangles, have become common in Jamaica.
  • 10 May is now celebrated in the country as ‘Indian Heritage Day’ or ‘The Indian Arrival Day’ and ‘The Roti festival’ which accidently coincides with Mother’s Day and is engraved in the hearts of Indo-Jamaicans.

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram and a student of journalism and mass communication. Twitter: @pashchiema5

 

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Glad to know that Indians in Jamaica have integrated well into the Jamaican society while preserving their culture and religion

    • Pashchiema Bhatia

      Although many had to adopt Christianity under some circumstances but today most of the migrants are still rooted to Indian culture

  • Gillian ScottO’Connor

    Yo the Jamaican Indians– thank you for curry goat!

SHARE
  • Shubhi Mangla

    Glad to know that Indians in Jamaica have integrated well into the Jamaican society while preserving their culture and religion

    • Pashchiema Bhatia

      Although many had to adopt Christianity under some circumstances but today most of the migrants are still rooted to Indian culture

  • Gillian ScottO’Connor

    Yo the Jamaican Indians– thank you for curry goat!

Next Story

NRIs Cheered for PM Modi

He profusely praised Prime Minister Modi for his all-round developmental plans and policies

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Indian, Diaspora, PM
The US President Donald Trump himself flew in to jazz up the occasion.

BY SALIL GEWALI

Americans’ love for the Indians and Indians’ love for America was fully on display at Howdy Modi’s event in Houston last Sunday. The US President Donald Trump himself flew in to jazz up the occasion. He profusely praised Prime Minister Modi for his all-round developmental plans and policies. He further widened PM Modi’s chest by calling him a fatherly figure of India, and also a crowd puller like Elvis Presley. President Trump very well knows how to talk shop. However, Trump sincerely hopes that the event will help strengthen the relation of the two nations, and much more than ever before. PM.

A huge crowd of 50 thousand roaring and cheering for Modi is something which President Trump thought his “presence” would top up the Howdy Modi’s cake which will equally nourish both. Not surprisingly, Modi began his speech by saying — “I have the honour to introduce you to my family”, pointedly aiming at the entire leaders and influential capitalists in the USA who employ the “cream” of the entire Indian population. On the other hand, President Trump clearly expressed his “pride” having the core “strength of Indian” in America. PM Modi is seemingly looking to exploit India’s strength in America and build new India in every possible way. This is probably his new dream. The passion of event pitched up so high that euphoric Modi impulsively yelled – “Abki Baar Trump Sarkar”. This must have caused heartburn to many people, and more to those running for the 2020 Presidential election.

Indian, Diaspora, PM
Americans’ love for the Indians and Indians’ love for America was fully on display at Howdy Modi’s event in Houston last Sunday.

To organize an event of this magnitude involves a lot of managerial skills and concerted efforts. Everything came off perfectly well in Houston — undoubtedly, due to the synergies of the efforts of dedicated NRIs and a huge amount of monetary contributions that generous diaspora had pitched in. What is very obvious is the people were emotionally involved to make the event grand, some were tied down for the past three months. Here why people love PM Modi so much is, in fact, no small thing though we just pass off – no matter which political party he belongs to. One believes he is the only leader who receives such kind of welcome and hospitality wherever he visits. This in fact should make other world leaders think seriously why Modi is so much idolized by the masses. Whether it has logical basis or not. No exaggeration, what it all that attracts people to him is something to be made a case study. If nothing, Modi’s simplicity, his inborn humility, uprightness, and incorruptible aptitudes must be the prime reasons that fascinate the right-thinking people.

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Here what really surprises us is that the man with righteous principle and integrity also has a huge number of sworn enemies. Those enemies are totally blind and deaf to Modi’s virtues. No amount of Modi’s sacrifices for the country make them happy and appreciative. They hold forth thousands of faults in Modi while never hesitating to appreciate and stand for the corruptible oddballs as their leaders. They also tend to look upon those unscrupulous persons for their inspiration — maybe for knowledge and moral too, lol! This is nothing but the sickness of this civilization. One sees this as one of the worst maladies of modern times.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali