Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian

Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians or Indian-Trinidadians and Tobagonians are people of Indian origin who are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago, whose ancestors came from India and the wider subcontinent beginning in 1845 during the period of colonization.

Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians
India Trinidad and Tobago
Painting of Indians in Trinidad during the late 19th century
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Trinidad and Tobago  468,524 (2011 census)
(plurality of the population)[1]
 United States125,000[2]
 United Kingdom25,000[2]
Trinidadian and Tobagonian English · Trinidadian Hindustani · Hinglish
Majority: Hinduism
Minority: Christianity  · Islam  · Others
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Caribbeans · Indo-Caribbean Americans · British Indo-Caribbean people · Indo-Guyanese · Indo-Surinamese · Indo-Jamaicans · Indo-Mauritians · Indo-Fijians · Indians in South Africa · Indian people · Indian diaspora

Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians are a subgroup of Indo-Caribbeans, which is a subgroup of the wider Indian diaspora. Generally, most Indians in Trinidad and Tobago can trace their ancestry back to northern India, especially the Bhojpur and Awadh regions of the Hindi Belt, which lies in the Gangetic plains, a plain that is located between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and faces the mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Kaimur, and the Vindhyas. However, some Indians may trace their ancestry to other parts of South Asia, notably southern India. Indians first arrived in Trinidad and Tobago as indentured laborers from India through the Indian indenture system from 1845 till 1917, and some Indians and other South Asians, along with their families, later came as entrepreneurs, businesspeople, religious leaders, doctors, engineers, and other professional occupations beginning in the mid-20th century and continuing till present day. Some Indians from many other Caribbean nations, such as Guyana, Martinique, and Grenada, also immigrated to Trinidad and Tobago.

Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians are the largest ethnic group in Trinidad and Tobago, identified by the official census, about 35.43% of the population in 2011.[1]

History edit

Early East Indian indentured laborers.

In his book Perspectives on the Caribbean: A Reader In Culture, History, and Representation, Philip W. Scher cites figures by Steven Vertovec, Professor of Anthropology; Of 94,135 Indian immigrants to Trinidad, between 1874 and 1917, 50.7 percent were from the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, 24.4 percent hailed from Oudh State, 13.5 percent were from Bihar Province and lesser numbers from various other parts of the British Raj, such as the Madras Presidency, Bengal Presidency, Central Provinces, Chota Nagpur Division, Bombay Presidency, and Punjab Province.[3] Out of 134,118 indentured labourers from India, 5,000 who left from the Port of Madras distinguished themselves as "Madrasi" and the immigrants who left from the Port of Calcutta distinguished themselves as "Kalakatiyas". However, this did not equate to their ethnolinguistic group. While, most Indians who left from the Port of Madras were Tamils (Madrasis), not all were ethnic-Madrasis, some were Telugu, Kannadiga, Malayali, Gondi, Kodava, Tulu, or Deccani, and most Indians who left from the Port of Calcutta were not ethnic-Bengalis (Kalakatiyas), but they were Purabias (Bhojpuri and Awadhi), however there were small numbers of Bengalis, as well as small numbers of Maithils, Magahis, Baghelis, Brajis, Bundelis, Kannaujis, Kauravis, Pashtuns, Nagpuris, Kurukhs, Haryanvis, Gujaratis, Marwari, Sadans, Chhattisgarhis, Kashmiris, Dogras, Punjabis, Marathis, Odias, Garhwalis, Kumaonis, Madheshis, Parsees, Assamese, Newars, Tharus and Khas who came via the Port of Calcutta.[4][5]

Many were people who were escaping poverty in India and seeking employment offered by the British for jobs either as indentured labourers, workers or educated servicemen, primarily, between 1845 and 1917.[6][7]

The demand for Indian indentured labourers increased dramatically after the abolition of slavery in 1834. They were sent, sometimes in large numbers, to plantation colonies producing high-value crops such as sugar in Africa and the Caribbean.

Religion edit

Religion of Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians
Religion Census 1921[a] Census 1931[8] Census 1970[9] Census 2000[10] Census 2011[11]
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Hinduism 99,564 82 94,125 67.88 228,758 61.24 245,459 55.00 232,104 49.54
Islam 19,427 16 20,747 14.96 57,105 15.29 57,042 12.78 54,543 11.64
Presbyterianism 6,071 5 10,335 7.45 34,844 9.33 31,277 7.00 26,631 5.68
Roman Catholicism 4,857 4 8,469 6.11 33,312 8.92 31,823 7.13 30,350 6.48
Anglicanism 2,428 2 3,946 2.85 6,192 1.66 3,035 0.68 2,637 0.56
Other Christian denominations - - 433 0.31 191 0.05 34,491 7.73 58,782 12.55
Zoroastrianism 607 0.5 278 0.2 - - - - - -
Buddhism 364 0.3 119 0.09 - - - - - -
Sikhism - - - - - - - - 300 0.06
Trinidad Orisha - - - - - - - - 1,466 0.31
Rastafari - - - - - - - - 97 0.02
Other - - 215 0.16 13,136 3.52 35,540 7.96 27,210 5.81
Not Stated - - - - - - 3,498 0.78 29,518 6.30
None - - - - - - 4,108 0.92 4,887 1.04
Total 121,420 138,667 373,538 446,273 468,524

Religious Makeup of Indo-Trinidadians (2011)

  Hinduism (49.54%)
  Christianity (25.27%)
  Islam (11.64%)
  Not Stated (6.3%)
  Other (5.87%)
  None (1.05%)
  Sikhism (0.06%)

According to the most recent census (2011) conducted in Trinidad and Tobago, Hinduism is the religion followed by a plurality of Indo-Trinidadians. The breakdown of religious affiliation for Indo-Trinidadians is as follows[11] -

  1. Hinduism - 49.54%
  2. Islam - 11.64%
  3. Pentecostalism/Evangelicalism/Full Gospel - 9.67%
  4. Roman Catholicism - 6.48%
  5. Not Stated - 6.30%
  6. Other - 5.81%
  7. Presbyterianism/Congregationalism - 5.68%
  8. None - 1.04%
  9. Spiritual Baptist - 0.96%
  10. Seventh-day Adventist Church - 0.91%
  11. Jehovah's Witnesses - 0.73%
  12. Anglicanism - 0.56%
  13. Trinidad Orisha - 0.31%
  14. Other Baptists - 0.21%
  15. Sikhism - 0.06%[12]
  16. Methodism - 0.05%
  17. Rastafari - 0.02%
  18. Moravian Church - 0.007%

Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago are represented by several sects, organizations and entities the largest of which is the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, a Sanātanī Hindu organization. Other Hindu organizations and sects include SWAHA International, Arya Samaj, Chinmaya Mission, Kabir panth, ISKCON, the Sathya Sai Baba movement, Shirdi Sai Baba movement, Ramanandi Sampradaya, Seunariani (Sieunarini/Siewnaraini/Shiv Narayani), Aughar (Aghor/Owghur), Kali Mai (Madrasi), Murugan (Kaumaram), Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (Radha Madhav), Ganapathi Sachchidananda movement, Divine Life Society, Brahma Kumaris, and Blue Star.[13][14]

A majority of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian Muslims are Sunni, however there are notable Shia and Ahmadiyya minorities. The major Muslim organisation representing Muslims in Trinidad and Tobago is the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA). Other Islamic organizations include the Trinidad Muslim League, Darul Uloom, Ummah T&T, the Muslim Federation, and the Tackveeyatul Islamic Association.[15]

The Sikh community in Trinidad and Tobago, numbering at about 300, consists of the descendants of the few Punjabis who came during the indentureship period, Punjabi Sikhs who came in the twentieth and twenty-first century, and Sindhi Hindus and Punjabi Hindus who also came in the twentieth and twenty-first century and who are, in addition to being Hindu, Nanakpanthis, followers of the Sikh Guru Nanak. The Sikhs have a gurdwara (temple) in Tunapuna dating back to 1929.[16][17]

Politics edit

Most Indo-Trinidadians have traditionally given their political support to parties opposed to the People's National Movement (PNM) which has historically been perceived as a Christian African-Creole party.[18] Voting patterns amongst Indo-Trinidadians have also been influenced by religion where, for periods of time Muslim Indo-Trinidadians and non-Presbyterian Christian Indo-Trinidadians supported the PNM because the prevailing parties for Indo-Trinidadians – the PDP, DLP, and ULF were felt to be Hindu and Presbyterian Indian dominated parties.[18] With the advent of the NAR and then the UNC this polarization by religion has been on the decline however its existence is still felt with the UNC fielding a Muslim candidate in every election for the San Juan/Barataria seat since 1995 owing to the presence of a large Indo-Trinidadian Muslim population within this constituency.

Notable Indo-Trinidadian politicians include:

Culture edit

Indo–Trinidadian and Tobagonians have retained their distinctive heritage and culture, while also functioning in a multicultural society. The South Asian languages of their ancestors have largely been lost, although a number of these words have entered the Trinidadian vernacular. Indian movies, music, and cuisine have entered the mainstream culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Chutney and chutney soca music rivals calypso and soca music during the Carnival season.

Holidays and Festivals edit

Diwali, Eid ul-Fitr, and Indian Arrival Day are national holidays, and Phagwah/Holi, Maha Shivratri, Hanuman Jayanti, Ram Naumi, Sita Naumi, Navratri, Vijayadashami, Krishna Janmashtami, Radhastami, Saraswati Jayanti, Raksha Bandhan, Vivaha Panchami, Guru Purnima, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kartik Snan, Ratha Saptami, Karagam Puja, Kalbhairo Jayanti, Mesha Sankranti, Makar Sankranti, Tulsi Vivah, Gita Jayanti, Datta Jayanti, Ratha Yatra, Gurpurab, Buddha Purnima, Ramadan, Hosay (Ashura), Eid al-Adha, Mawlid, Shab-e-barat, Chaand Raat, Islamic New Year, and other Hindu and Muslim holidays are widely celebrated.

Cuisine edit

Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian cuisine is mostly derived from the Bhojpuri and Awadhi cuisines of North India, with considerable South Indian, especially Tamil, influence on preparation and ingredients in the tropical environment of Trinidad and Tobago that was similar to the tropical environment of South India, where a significant minority of Indians came from. There is also influence from other ethnic cuisines on the island such as Creole, Chinese, West African, Indigenous, French, British, North American, Portuguese, Arab, and Latin American cuisines. It is unlike the mainstream Indian-South Asia cuisines, which is mostly based on Punjabi, Rajasthani, Mughlai, Gujarati, Bengali, Udupi, and Tamil cuisines. This "mainstream" Indian cuisine was brought to the country by more recent immigrants and is termed as East Indian cuisine in Trinidad and Tobago and is contrasted from the local Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian or local-Indian cuisine.

Breakfast edit

A traditional Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian breakfast consists of sada roti, a type of unleavened bread made with flour, baking powder and water. The dough is rolled out and cooked on flat, cast-iron skillet, called a tawa. The cooked dough is cut into quarters and served with a variety of fried vegetables, tarkaris or chokhas.[19] Sometimes fried bake is eaten instead and is made using with flour, baking powder and yeast and is then fried in oil. Usually breakfast is vegetarian, however salt fish is sometimes added. Some breakfast dishes include baigan chokha (roasted and mashed eggplant), damadol chokha[20] (roasted and mashed tomatoes), pepper chokha (roasted and mashed peppers), aloo chokha (boiled, roasted, and mashed potatoes), karaili chokha (roasted and mashed bittermelon), murtani or upar ghar (combination of roasted and mashed eggplant, tomato, pepper, and okra), fried or curried bodi (long beans), fried or curried aloo (potatoes), fried or curried ochro/bhindhi (okra), fried or curried seim (hyacinth beans), fried or curried karaili (bittermelon), pumpkin or kohra tarkari (pumpkin simmered with spices and seasoning), fried or curried saijan (drumstick), fried or curried lauki (bottle gourd), bhaji (made with young dasheen bush (taro) leaves, spinach leaves, saijan (drumstick) leaves, or chaurai (spiny amaranth) leaves), and/or fried plantains.

Street foods edit

Food stalls in Debe

Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian foods like doubles,[21] aloo pie,[22] pholourie, saheena, baiganee, bara, and kachori are popular street foods throughout the country and are served with various chutneys, achars, and pepper sauce. Doubles is made with two baras (flat fried dough) and curried channa (chickpeas) and is served with toppings, like pepper sauce, kuchela, and tamarind, mango, pommecythere, cucumber, coconut and bandhaniya chutneys. It is one of the most popular breakfast foods eaten on the islands, however, it is eaten at any time throughout the day. Another Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian street food that is popular is roti, which consists of roti (usually paratha or dhalpuri) that wraps curried vegetables, curried channa (chickpeas) and aloo (potatoes), curried chicken, curried shrimp, curried goat, curried duck, curried conchs, or any other spicy fillings. The town of Debe in southern Trinidad is a popular destination for these street foods.[23]

Festival foods edit

Diwali meal consisting of curry channa and aloo, curried mango, bhaji, karhi, rice and paratha.

Traditional Diwali and other Hindu festivals and prayers foods include appetizers such as pholourie, saheena, baiganee, bara, and kachori. Main dishes include roti (most commonly dalpuri and paratha) and karhi and rice served with condiments such as achar or anchar, kuchela, mother-in-law (pickled vegetables), pepper sauce, and dishes such as curried mango, bhaji (dasheen bush or any spinach), pumpkin or kohra tarkari (pumpkin), curry channa and aloo (chickpeas and potatoes), fried or curried baigan (eggplant), fried or curried bodi (long beans), fried or curried seim (hyacinth beans), curry eddoes (arui), curry chataigne or katahar (breadnut), and other tarkaries (vegetarian curries). Desserts include mohan bhog (parsad), lapsi and suhari, burfi, khurma, gulab jamun, pera, rasgulla, batasa, gujiya, gulgula, roat, kheer (sweet rice), laddu, and jalebi. It is traditionally served on a sohari (Calathea lutea) leaf.[24]

Special Eid, Hosay, and other Muslim festival foods include curry goat, curry channa and aloo, sawine, burfi, rasgulla, sirnee, maleeda, and halwa.

Condiments edit

Kuchela jars in a supermarket.

Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians accompany their meals with various condiments; these can include pepper sauces, chutneys and pickles and are often homemade.

Pepper sauces are made by using scotch bonnet or other hot peppers, either minced or chopped and added to vinegar or lime or lemon juice and sometimes pickled together with carrots, sour cherries, bitter melon, or daikon (murai). Mother-in-law is another popular condiment which is a coarsely chopped spicy medley of peppers, pimentos, carrots, bitter melon, and other spices.

Chutneys are popular as well and often include mango, tamarind, cucumber, pommecythère, bandhaniya, dhaniya, chalta, and coconut. They are most commonly eaten with doubles, aloo pie, saheena, baiganee, kachori, and pholourie. There are a variety of popular pickles known locally as achar or anchar which are commonly used. Kuchela a grated spicy version, usually made from mango but sometimes made from pommecythère, the mango version being most popular. Other version of achars are made from mango, pommecythère, tamarind, amla, lemon, lime, chayote, chalta, and green apple.

Sweets and Desserts edit

Indian sweets and dessers are commonplace in Trinidad and Tobago and are distributed especially at Indian weddings and religious events. They include kheer (sweet rice or meetha bhat), sawine, khurma, gulab jamoon, burfi, roat, laddu, jalebi, halwa, mohan bhog (parsad), sirnee, lapsi and suhari, rasgula, tilly cake, gulgula, paynuse, pera, modak, gujiya, and batasa.

Dance edit

Indian dance forms are prevalent among Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians.[25] Kathak, Odissi, and Bharatanatyam are the most popular Indian classical dance forms in Trinidad and Tobago.[26] Indian folk dances, such as launda ke naach, Bollywood dancing, and chutney dancing are also popular Indian dance forms.[26]

Music edit

Theatre edit

Indian theatre is also popular throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Nautankis and dramas such as Raja Harishchandra, Raja Nal, Raja Rasalu, Sarwaneer (Sharwan Kumar), Indra Sabha, Bhakt Prahalad, Lorikayan, Gopichand, and Alha-Khand were brought by Indians to Trinidad and Tobago, however they had largely began to die out, till preservation began by Indian cultural groups.[27] Ramleela, the drama about the life of the Hindu deity Rama, is largely popular throughout the country during the time between Sharad Navaratri and Vijayadashami leading up to Diwali, with almost each locale having their own celebration. The Ramlila celebrations end with the burning of an effigy of Ravana, the main antagonist of the ancient Ramayana and its 16th century vernacular variation, popular among Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, the Ramcharitmanas. Rasleela (Krishnaleela), the drama about the life of the Hindu deity Krishna, is popular around the time of Krishna Janmashtami.[28][29][30]

Influence on Trinidad and Tobago edit

The Indian–South Asian influence is very much noticeable in Trinidad and Tobago as they are the largest ethnic groups in the country. Mandirs, masijids, jhandis (Hindu prayer flags), Hindu schools, Muslim schools, roti shops and stalls, puja stores, Indian groceries/markets, and Indian clothing stores and expos dot the landscape of the country. Many businesses also bear names of Indian-South Asian origin. Many towns, settlements, villages, avenues, traces, and streets in Trinidad and Tobago are named after Indian cities and people, such as Calcutta Settlement, Madras Settlement, Delhi Settlement, Jai Ramkissoon Housing Settlement, Raghoo Village, Jaraysingh, Hasnalli, Hindustan Village, Patna Village, Gandhi Village, Kandahar Village, Cawnpore (Kanpur) Village, Nepal Village, Abdul Village, Samaroo Village, Basta Hall, Gopaul Lands, Sumadh Gardens, Mohammed Ville, Nancoo Village, Malabar, Matura (Mathura), Bangladesh, Morang Village, Chandanagore (Chandinagar), Sadhoowa, Divali Nagar, Golconda, Barrackpore, and Fyzabad.[31] The holidays of Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, and Indian Arrival Day are national holidays in Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidadian Hindustani and other South Asian languages has had a great influence on the Trinidadian English lingua franca. Most people of South Asian descent in Trinidad and Tobago also speak a unique Hinglish macaronic dialect of Trinidadian English and Trinidadian Hindustani and they incorporate more Hindustani vocabulary into their Trinidadian English dialect than other ethnic groups in the country.

Notable persons edit

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Percentages add up to more than 100% because many converts to Christianity answered twice as they still identified with their former religions of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or Zoroastrianism

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2008-01-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Indo-Caribbean Times December 2007 - Kidnapping - Venezuela". Scribd. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  3. ^ Vertovec, 1992
  4. ^ "Doc.pdf".
  5. ^ Jha, J. C. (1973). "Indian Heritage in Trinidad, West Indies". Caribbean Quarterly. 19 (2): 28–50. doi:10.1080/00086495.1973.11829152. JSTOR 23050197.
  6. ^ Under colonial rule, India's population provided the British Empire with a ready source of cheap and mobile labourers. Many Indians agreed to become indentured labourers to escape the widespread poverty and famine in the 19th century. Some travelled alone; others brought their families to settle in the colonies they worked in.
  7. ^ "Indian indentured labourers - The National Archives". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Religious diversity in the Indian-Trinidadian Community".
  9. ^ "c-c50.pdf" (PDF).
  10. ^ "2000 Census Data - Central Statistical Office".
  11. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2015-07-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "The Sikhs of Trinidad".
  13. ^ "doc.pdf" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Hindu sects in Trinidad and Tobago – Indo-Caribbean Publications".
  15. ^ "Mosques (Masjid) and Muslim Organizations in Trinidad and Tobago |". Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2015-07-13.
  16. ^ "Sikhism in Trinidad - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia".
  17. ^ "Sikh Channel in Trinidad - Episode 01". YouTube.
  18. ^ a b "Democratic Labor" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Festival of the GIRMITIYAS Arrival Day | Indo American News". Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  20. ^ "Traditional Tomato Choka Recipe". Zen Health. 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  21. ^ Mohan, Neki (June 28, 2015). "Street food of Trinidad, Tobago gains popularity in South Florida". WPLG. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  22. ^ "Food in true Trini style". Barbados Today. September 2, 2017. Archived from the original on July 22, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  23. ^ "Saheena, Baiganee and Kachori on the Debe Doubles Strip in T&T | Foodie Finds". 10 May 2021.
  24. ^ "Divali: Destination Trinidad and Tobago | Tours, Holidays, Vacations and Travel Guide".
  25. ^ Allen-Agostini, Lisa (1 September 2008). "Rhythms of our people". Caribbean Beat (93). Archived from the original on 9 August 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  26. ^ a b Gooptar, Primnath. "THE FILMI INFLUENCE ON EAST INDIAN DRESS AND DANCE IN TRINIDAD". Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  27. ^ "TASSA THUNDER : Folk Music from India to the Caribbean". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21 – via
  28. ^ "Ramleela | National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago". 8 September 2017. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  29. ^ "BRIEF HISTORY OF RAMLEELA IN T&T – NRCTT Inc". Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  30. ^ Guardian, Trinidad. "Ramleela on the rise".
  31. ^ "Legacy of our East Indian Ancestors, Names of Places in Trinidad of East Indian Origin - The Indian Caribbean Museum of Trinidad and Tobago". Retrieved 29 August 2017.

External links edit