Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Indian Arrival Day 2012

Artist unknown

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? 

Trinidad and Tobago is made up of an extremely vibrant and diverse community.  Apart from the East Indian community, there are those of African,  French,  Chinese, Portugese, Syrian, Lebanese, English, Scots and Spanish descent. They all  'arrived' from somewhere each bringing with them parts of their culture so that Trinidad and Tobago became, as Desmond Tutu once  called it, 'a rainbow nation'.

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.


  1. I have to agree with you, Bee. Specifying Indians for Arrival Day is a little disconcerting, especially when it had been known as Arrival Day first. Did the date actually co-inside with the first Indian arrival? Seems like that would explain it but just as there is so much in our country that keeps us separate from each other, it would have been nice for this date to honor everyone. As you said, it would be a slamming great party.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Some people here don't agree with me as they say not everyone 'arrived'. According to them, the slaves came under duress whilst the indentured labourers came of their own free will. I can see where they're coming from, agree that the atrocities committed against human beings were appalling but what so terrible should not be allowed to affect what they do today.

    This year celebrates fifty years of independence from Great Britain. There are some Trinidadians who wish the British flag had never been lowered as Trinidad and Tobago is suffering from a terrible breakdown in society which has led to total lawlessness in all quarters.

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  4. Dont we also have an Emancipation Day in Trinidad and Tobago!? All of the Indentured workers did not come on the Island due to free will; some were kidnapped/beaten and brought to Trinidad and treated much like the slaves before them. They even lived in slave quarters. It is a pity that many people want to deny the arrival of the Indians. The Indian Arrival has given so much to Trinidad and Tobago. The culinary cuisine in Trinidad is Indian based- right from the callaloo to the red beans which one of them being our national dish.

  5. Yes we do have Emancipation Day as well. I don't have any problems at all with every group honouring its own celebration as you will see if you read my two previous in depth posts on Indian Arrival Day where I cover everything from cuisine, clothing, music, names etc....

    It was no picnic for the indentured labourers and this post did not at any point, say that the arrival of the Indians should be denied.

    What I am saying here is, in addition to independent celebrations, why not have one massive day when people of all ethnic backgrounds come together in celebration.


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