Indo-Jamaicans

Indo-Jamaicans or Indian-Jamaicans, are the descendants of people who came from the Indian subcontinent to Jamaica. Indians form the third largest ethnic group in Jamaica after Africans and Multiracials.[2]

Indo-Jamaicans
India Jamaica
Total population
300,000 (2003 est.)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Kingston, Savanna-la-Mar, May Pen, Spanish Town, Ocho Rios
Languages
Mostly Jamaican English or Jamaican Patois; Caribbean Hindustani (to lesser extent and spoken by the descendants of Jahajis); Sindhi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kutchi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Standard Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) (spoken by more recent immigrants); other Indian languages
Religion
Hinduism · Christianity · Islam · Sikhism
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Caribbeans
Indian people
Indian diaspora
Indo-Caribbean Americans
British Indo-Caribbean people
Indo-Fijians
Mauritians of Indian origin
Indian South Africans

HistoryEdit

Due to deteriorating socioeconomic of conditions in British India, more than 36,000 Indians came to British Jamaica as indentured labourers under the Indian indenture system between 1845 and 1917, mostly from Bhojpur and Awadh in the Hindi Belt as well as other parts of North India. A significant minority were from South India. Around two-thirds of the labourers who came remained on the island. The demand for their labour came after the end of slavery in 1830 and the failure to attract workers from Europe. Indian labourers, who had proved their worth in similar conditions in Mauritius, were sought by the British Jamaican government, in addition to workers coming from China.[3]

Indian workers were actually paid less than the ex-slaves, who were of West African origin. While slaves obviously were not paid for their labour, when they were emancipated in the 1830s, their wages were more than those given to Indian indentured servants. Indian immigrants therefore undercut the wages of the ex-slaves. This, along with fundamental cultural and linguistic differences and a tendency to not mix with the local population, caused the Africans as well as the British to look down on them. Indians were harassed with the derogatory term, "coolie," referring to their worker status. Despite such hardships, many Indians in Jamaica have retained their culture and religions like Hinduism and Islam.[4]

The British Indian government encouraged indentured labour and recruiting depots were established in Calcutta and Madras, although agents were paid significantly less per recruit than for a European worker. Most Indians who signed contracts did so in the hope of returning to India with the fruits of their labour rather than intending to migrate permanently. The Indian Government appointed a Protector of Immigrants in Jamaica, although this office tended to protect the interests of the employers rather than the workers. Although technically the workers had to appear before a magistrate and fully understand their terms and conditions, these were written in English and many workers, signing only with a thumb print, did not comprehend the nature of their service.[5]

In the mid-20th century, smaller numbers of Indians from the Sindh, Gujarat, Kutch, Bengal and Punjab regions came to Jamaica not as labourers but as merchants conducting business alongside Chinese and Arab immigrants.[6]

Some Indians have married into the local population of Africans, Creoles, Chinese, Hispanics-Latinos, Arabs and Europeans. Today the Indian population of Jamaica is either full-blooded Indian who are recent immigrants or their descendants, full-blooded Indians who are the descendants of the original indentured laborers, or mixed Indians, such as Douglas, Chindians, and Anglo-Indians.

Arrival in JamaicaEdit

The first ship carrying workers from India, the "Maidstone", landed at Old Harbour Bay in 1845. It bore 200 men, 28 women under 30 years old and 33 children under 12 years old from various towns and villages in Northern India. The numbers arriving increased to 2,439 three years later, at which point the Indian Government halted the scheme to examine its working. The programme resumed in 1859 and continued until the outbreak of World War I, although by the 1870s stories of the hardships suffered by Indian indentured workers were causing disquiet on the subcontinent.[7]

Indian indentureship ended in 1917 to the Caribbean, in the territories of Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Croix, Guadeloupe, Martinique, British Guiana (now Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), French Guiana, and British Honduras (now Belize).

Two shillings and six pence were deducted from their meagre wages for the rice, flour, dried fish or goat, peas and seasoning which constituted their rations. Children received half rations but the plantation managers were warned to treat the children well, with quarterly medical checkups theoretically provided. The overwhelming majority of the immigrant labourers were Hindu but little provision was made for their faith and cultural practices. Non-Christian unions were not recognized until 1956 and many accepted Christianity and adopted English names. Higher caste Indians were prohibited from emigrating to the Caribbean so many did not give their family names as they embarked.[8]

The conditions of the indenture varied from between one and five years, with the workers being released if they fell ill or bought themselves out of their contract. They were not allowed to leave the plantation without a permit, on pain of fines or even imprisonment. Many of the workers and their families suffered from yaws, hookworm, and malaria.[9]

SurnamesEdit

The original Indentured labourers arriving in Jamaica during the mid to late 19th century mostly did not have surnames back in India. Once arriving in Jamaica, in order to assimilate easier into Jamaican society, they often took Anglo/British originated family names due to those being the majority in the country. However, some families took the names of the villages they came from in India and also their one name was used as the surname for their children.

It was not until the later merchants and businessmen immigrated in the early 20th century that more "Indian" sounding names became more common.

Some Jamaican Indian surnames include Mangaroo, Babooram, Sirjue, Partab (Pratap), Bhoorasingh, Mykoo, Maragh, Singh, Bandoo, Persad, Gopee, Kissoon, Rambaran, Ali, Hussaney and Lala.

Settlement and repatriationEdit

Although most of the workers originally planned to return to India, the planters lobbied the Government to allow them to stay and defray their settlement costs, largely to save on the costs of returning them to the Indian subcontinent. Money and land were used as incentives, with time expired Indians offered 10 or 12 acres (49,000 m2) of Crown land.[10]

The monetary grants were suspended in 1879, with the land grants being halted from 1897 to 1903 and abandoned in 1906 as there was little difference in the costs of repatriating a worker (£15 per person) and offering land grants of £12 per head.[11]

Problems in returningEdit

The lack of ships available to repatriate the workers was another factor in many of them staying on. Ships refused to sail if not full, and at other times were oversubscribed, leading to some time expired workers being left behind. During World War I German submarine warfare and a lack of ships further cut the numbers able to return. The Indian Government did not encourage the return of workers as many were destitute, ill or had lost touch with their own culture.[12]

The Indian workers tended their own gardens after the work on the plantations was done to supplement their diet. They introduced tamarind to the island, in addition to cannabis and the chillum pipe. Hindu festivals such as Diwali were celebrated although many became Christians over time. Gradually workers left the plantations for Kingston and took jobs that better utilized their existing and newly learned skills. The Indian community adopted English as their first language and became jewellers, fishermen, barbers, and shopkeepers.[13]

Impact on Jamaican culture and economyEdit

Despite being a small percentage of the population, Indians have made an outsized impact on their adopted island nation by significantly contributing to its culture. They maintain their own cultural organizations that work for the benefit of the Indian community, while being assimilated into the wider Jamaican community in all facets of life. The once influence of the caste system has largely atrophied and arranged marriages are no longer common.[14]

Indian jewellery, in the form of intricately wrought gold bangles, are common in Jamaica, with their manufacture and sale going back to the 1860s. During the first half of the 20th century, Indians such as the Jadusinghs owned several jewellery shops in Kingston specializing in pure 18-karat gold.[15]

Alongside Hinduism and Sufi Islam, ganja was introduced to Jamaica from India. Hindu use of ganja for spiritual and medicinal purposes, including religious practices and sometimes recreation were adopted into Jamaican culture. The smoking of ganja has become a spiritual tradition by Rastafarians and is a central tenet in their way of life.[16]

Indians have contributed to the culinary tapestry of the island as well. Foods, such as pumpkin tarkari, curry goat and roti are popular, and seen as part of the national cuisine.[17]

In 1995, the Government of Jamaica proclaimed May 10 Indian Heritage Day in recognition of the Indians’ contribution to the social and economic development of the country. The arrival of the Indians more than 170 years ago is commemorated in stamps.

On March 1, 1998, the National Council for Indian Culture in Jamaica was formed. It is the umbrella organization of Indian associations with the mission to preserve and promote Indian culture.[18]

Notable Jamaicans of Indian descentEdit

Notable Indo-JamaicansEdit

Notable Jamaicans of partial Indian descentEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  2. ^ "University of the West Indies". Uwi.edu. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  6. ^ "Jamaica. The Caribbean. Plantations, slavery, European rule. Maritime Heritage Project. Sea Captains, Ships, Merchants, Merchandise, World Migration". Maritimeheritage.org. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  11. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  12. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  14. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  16. ^ McFadden, David (15 September 2014). ""The world is catching up now": Acceptance growing for Rastafarians". The Cannabist. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Indians". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  18. ^ "Real Museum of Jamaican History". Facebook.com. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  19. ^ "Raja Sarangie Group".
  20. ^ https://ufmrg.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/diversity_-difference-and-caribbean-feminism-feb_2007.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  21. ^ Comparative studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vols 17–8, Duke University Press, 1997, p. 124.
  22. ^ Today Show: "Lester and Jenna trace their Jamaican roots" Aired on September 9, 2012 Archived September 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Holt, Lester (2007-05-11). "To Jamaica with Mom". allDAY. NBC News. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  24. ^ Sobat, Peter. "XXXTENTACION CALLS OUT DRAKE IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW AFTER JAIL". blurredculture. Archived from the original on March 9, 2019. Retrieved March 26, 2019.

SourcesEdit

  • Mansingh, L. and A. "The Indian tradition lives on", in A tapestry of Jamaica: The best of Skywritings, Air Jamaica's in-flight magazine. Kingston: Creative Communications Ltd. and Oxford: Macmillan Publishers. pp. 364–366.
  • Mansingh, L. and A. "Indian heritage in Jamaica", The Jamaica Journal 10 (2,3,4): 10–19.
  • Parboosingh, I.S. "An Indo-Jamaica beginning" The Jamaica Journal 18 (2): 2-10, 12.
  • Sherlock, P. and Bennett, H. (1998) The story of the Jamaican people. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers,
  • Shepherd, V. "Transients to citizens: The development of a settled East Indian Community", The Jamaica Journal 18 (3): 17–21.
  • Singhvi, H. M., ed. (2000), "Chapter 19. Other Countries of Central and South America" (PDF), Report of the High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora, Republic of India: Ministry of External Affairs, retrieved 2010-06-04.