Monday, May 30, 2011

Indian Arrival Day 2011

Today as my American friends remember those who sacrificed their lives in wars gone by and those still going on, here in Trinidad and Tobago, the East Indian community is celebrating Indian Arrival Day.  A very happy Arrival Day to my Indian friends.

Indian Arrival Day commemorates the arrival of the first Indian Indentured labourers from India to Trinidad, in May1845, on the ship Fatel Razack. While this momentous event has been celebrated among the East Indian community in Trinidad and Tobago for many years, it was only in 1994 that it was made an official public holiday. It was called Arrival Day. In 1995 it was re-named Indian Arrival Day.
Indian Immigration to Trinidad spanned the period 1845-1917. During this period over 140,000 Indians were transported to the island. The journey was long and arduous and living conditions were deplorable. The Indians were subjected to abuse, poor food, and dangerous weather conditions. Nevertheless these adverse conditions enabled them to form a bond which overcame their differences of language, caste and regionalism.
After disembarking at Nelson Island, the arrivals were fed and rested for a couple weeks and then sent to the various estates that had requested them previously.
When the Fatel Razack sailed into the Gulf of Paria in 1845, it brought not only a new labour force, but also a new culture, because the Indians brought with them their food, dress, language, music, dance, religion and customs.

 Buss-up-shut (paratha), dhal  and pumpkin (photograph Vegan in the Sun) 

Indian wear

Tassa Drummers

Shiv Shakti Dancers (photo Newsday Newspapers)

Temple in the Sea at Waterloo

Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple

Mohammed Jinnah Memorial Mosque, St Joseph (Photo Flikr)



 Jhandis (Prayer Flags)


Divali in Felicity, Trinidad

Divali Deyas 

The Fatel Razack brought not only a new labour force to assist in the economic development of Trinidad, but also a new people with a new culture.  Indian Arrival Day commemorates this momentous occasion and the event is celebrated by staging a re-enactment of the arrival of the Fatel Razack at various beaches, as well as with music and dance ceremonies. Outstanding members of the community are also honoured for their contributions to society.
NCIC. Conference on "Challenge and Change: the Indian Diaspora in its Historical and Contemporary Contexts" Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Arrival of Indian Indentured Labourers in Trinidad. August 11-18, 1995.

For those who are interested in reading more, I wrote a more detailed blog on Indian Arrival Day last year which you can find here.


  1. This is so interesting! I never knew.

    Thanks for your wonderful comments at my place, that means a lot to me.


  2. How fascinating. This is an aspect of West Indian history and culture I have only recently come across (a friend of ours comes from a Jamaican Indian background). Your fascinating post adds to my knowledge. Thanks.

  3. Excellent post, Bee. We are all about India here at the manor, since WT just returned from a week long visit.

  4. Really interesting. I had no idea. Thank you for this.

  5. Very interesting! I'm pleased to know that Indian Arrival Day is a holiday and a reason for merrymaking. I wish all countries celebrated their immigrants so wholeheartedly.

  6. wow...I had absolutely no knowledge of this...absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much. Vb

  7. Thank you so much - glad you all found something interesting in this. I wrote it in much more detail last year, 2010 going into the foods, music, musical instruments, customs, festivals etc....

    Trinidad is indeed as Desmond Tutu said 'a rainbow country' made up of many different races, cultures and customs including as mentioned here East Indians, West Indians (African), Portugese, Spanish, Chinese, Syrians, British, French, Lebanese.....

  8. I had no idea of this interesting history, Bee. Thanks so much for sharing here.

  9. Thank you Marinela and Annie. Thee islands have amazing history.


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