It is Wednesday 30 May which here in Trinidad means yet another Public Holiday this one celebrating the occasion of Indian Arrival Day. I have written about this holiday twice if not three times before and anyone who wants to know more about it, can search this blog and find Indian Arrival Day which as I recall is more in depth than Indian Arrival Day 2011. Failing that, both blogs, 2010 and 2011 can be found through the Google search engine! Indian Arrival Day 2011 covers the history of the occasion together with foods, fashion, music and the year before if I recall rightly, also covers names, feast days and religious holidays. All the customs indentured laboures brought with them have stood the test of time.
Apart from saying that, I will just add that Indian Arrival Day commemorates the arrival in Trinidad of the first indentured labourers from India. In May 1845 the Fatel Razack arrived in Trinidad. Whilst that momentous event has been celebrated amongst the East Indian community in this country for many years, it wasn't until 1994 that it was declared an official Public Holiday. Arrival Day was, in 1995, renamed Indian Arrival Day.
Now please don't get me wrong! It's not that I have a problem with 'Indian Arrival Day' per se but the reality is that most people here in Trinidad are descendants of people who 'arrived' from many different parts of the world at some time or another and my question has been and continues to be, "why can't we just have an 'Arrival Day'? Why does it have to be put down to one race?
One can imagine that with so many different creeds, colours and races intermingling, how fortunate this tiny twin island Republic really is. The tantalizing cuisine where anything from a curry to a gyro is available, the infectious music giving us steel pan, calypso, soca, tassa, chutney, Latin and yes, the melodies of yesteryear as well as the up to date music; the everyday western clothing along with the sari and the colourful dresses paired with matching head gear worn by females of African descent (and others) that are worn on special days and holidays.
And let's not forget the annual Chinese Dragon Boat Race which is open to every ethnic group.
Along with its culture, each country brought with it, its religion. We embrace Hindus, Muslims, many branches of Christianity, Spiritual Baptists and Orishas to name a few. For those interested in the difference between the Spiritual Baptist and Orisha, there is a wealth of information on the net.
History teaches us that the Arawaks and Caribs inhabited this island prior to the coming of the supposedly deeply spiritual Christopher Colombus who upon sighting the three mountains named the island, 'La Ysla de la Trinidad'. (Island of the Trinity). Today there is an active Carib community in Trinidad which is headed by a Queen.
I go back to my original statement. We all arrived from somewhere at some point in time so whilst each ethnic group can celebrate its particular 'arrival day' within its community, why can't we have one single 'Arrival day' which encompasses every creed and race? The impact would be spectacular. More so probably that Carnival!!
Happy Indian Arrival Day to all my friends of East Indian descent and to all those of different ethnic backgrounds who are partaking of the food and festivities.