generation of Caroos have no idea what our history is, and our parents
do not even seem to know about it themselves..."
"After the Indians were brought to the Caribbean the various churches saw an opportunity to increase their flocks and to break the Indians away from their "pagan" and "idolatrous" behavior.
They aggressively pursued this in most of the colonies, but their successes never eclipsed the cultural teachings in those colonies that had large number of immigrant Indians such as Guyana and Trinidad, since these colonies had a large enough population that included Brahmin priests and Muslim teachers to officiate in ceremonies and create Hindu and Muslim temples.
In the smaller islands this was not the case and the Christian churches were able make great headway in their teachings.
Saint Lucia has a sizeable population who are descendants of indentured laborers from India that were brought to save the cultivation and processing of sugar cane.
The Palmyra brought the first, of thirteen, shiploads on May 6, 1859. A point of note: the last ship to bring Indian laborers to St. Lucia was the Volga, which sank off the coast of Vigie Point, near Castries on the night of Dec 10, 1893. It was carrying 156 Indians for St. Lucia and 487 for Jamaica.
All souls were saved; and those for Jamaica were taken there on the Jumna on Dec 22nd. So not only were the Volgaâ's Indians jahaji's, but they shared a strong bond, forged through the same tragic experience.In the beginning it was not a problem for the Indians to practice their culture. In the early records of St. Lucia it was not uncommon to see the first laborers dressed in traditional clothing, practicing ceremonies such as Diwali and Hosay. When the churches started their conversion scheme, they established schools which if the Indians wanted their children to gain an education they were required to adopt Christianity.
What might have confused them
further was that the various denominations used to tell those that
became baptized in one church had to be rebaptized in another church
because the teachings of the other was not right, and the Indian might
have been given another name.
I have cousin that in late 1990's wanted to give her daughter an Indian name and the Priest in the Catholic Church initially refused to perform the baptism because one of the names was associated with one of the Hindu goddesses. He told her that she would have to choose another name. So this continues today.
In the late 50ís and the 70's many of the younger Indians at the time started to turn their back on their culture despite the urging of their parents to the contrary. It did not help matters any when many of the older males in the families had started to go find work in other islands leaving their spouses to raise the families at home and things deteriorated even further.
Schools in St. Lucia do not spend much time teaching about the Indians and their contribution to the islands history and economy, so the younger generation is not learning it at home, not learning it in the churches, and are not learning about it in the schools.
There are no virtually no celebrations of various Hindu/Muslim holidays in St. Lucia.
There are hardly any historical documents on the islands that a person can read to find out about the past.
I can think of only a handful of articles that even mention that there are Indians in St. Lucia much less go into any depth about what they have contributed.
Most articles only say that Indians influenced the cuisine of the island.
I do not blame the authors of those articles. It's because they have no source information from which to draw any conclusion data.
The Indo-St. Lucians are a lost people without any firm connection to their past.
Imagine that the last shipload to arrive was only 112 years ago. There are still St. Lucians alive today whose parents came from India. There are a few that still speak some Hindi ( Oudh/ Bhojpuri dialects), some that still sings the old songs, and some that still have knowledge to pass on.
This is why the generation that
once turned their back on their culture and later became educated
enough to realize its importance to one's self, can help teach the
younger ones of this importance, not to convert them back to Hinduism
or Islam, but to let them know who they are.
"To make people get more united, you need to be proud of yourself first. And to be proud of yourself you need to know who you are, where you come from, what your roots is. If you know your own history then you know who you are. " - Piyapas Bhirombhakdi - Lady in waiting to Queen Sirikit of Thailand
Personally, I cannot continue to live a lie once my eyes have been opened to the truth, no matter how unpopular the move to throw off the bondage of that lie may be.
In my visits to Africa, the
Middle East, Europe, and North America I have seen much of the strength
of many people who have held on to their culture, some for thousands of
years, despite what conquerors have tried to do to strip them of their
There is nothing wrong with being one people out of many. But I believe that one's culture should be studied and passed on.