- Shi'ism in the Region
Despite being of Islamic origin, Hosay was celebrated by all on the estate including the negro panboilers and with the exception of the white plantocracy. The 1880’s were a time of unrest. In 1881, a riot erupted at Cedar Hill estate which resulted in the assault of the overseer and requiring the intervention of the police before it was quelled. The growing numbers of Indians in the colony was a source of worry to colonial authorities who feared a mass uprising. The government , through the indomitable Inspector Commandant of Police , Captian Arthur Wybrow Baker , issued an ordinance which would prevent the Hosay processions from the estates from entering the town of San Fernando , which was done so that the tajas may be dumped near King’s Wharf .
On the eve of Hosay, police reinforcements were stationed at the Court House on Harris Promenade while a shipload of Marines, the HMS Dido anchored offshore. It is recorded that some of the Indians on particular estates did not participate in the processions which would approach Royal Road through Mon Repos Estate, and Cipero Cross (Cross Crossing).
On October 30th files of armed policemen were stationed at these strategic points to await the eight or ten thousand strong who would defy the Ordinance. It is possible that the Indians did not believe that the police would fire, but upon approaching the barricade at Cipero Cross, Stipendary Magistrate Arthur Child read the riot act and the police fired into the throng. A similar scene occurred almost simultaneously at the junction of Circular Road and Royal Road and when the acris smoke cleared, eleven lay dead and over one hundred were seriously wounded. The tajas were abandoned as carts took the dead to Paradise Cemetery where they were buried in a mass grave upon which the present-day San Fernando Central Market now stands. It is said by some that the hasty internment was done to hide a much greater death toll. This bloody chapter of our history must always stand as a monument to the sovereignty of religious freedoms and the immense sacrifice made by those whose lives were given for this cause.
Extracted from "Race retention and culture loss: South Asians/East Indians in St. Vincent By Kumar Mahabir. This paper is based on an interview done in 1982 with a 93-year old Indian, Mr. James Woods of St. Vincent. The interview was done with Mr. James Woods, born 1889, at his home in Richard Park, St. Vincent , on March 15, 1982 when Woods was 93 years old."
BMMA was primarily incorporated to propagate the teaching of Ahlulbayt to the inmates of correctional institutions in USA and Canada. These inmates who had embraced Islam according to the Sunni Madhhab were disenchanted and asked for directions towards the Seerah of Ahlulbayt. The founder members of BMMA embarked on this mission with full support from well-wishers and donors who pledged their loyal support for this cause. BMMA was born.
Soon after BMMA was informed of the Shiite converts in Trinidad and Guyana. Most interestingly BMMA stumbled upon the Hossay Festival in Trinidad which has been taking place every Muharram for the last 150 years to commemorate the martyrdon of Imam Hussein (a.s.). This event is organized by the Shiite Muslims of Indian ethnic origin whose fore fathers were taken to Trinidad by British Raaj as indentured labourers. This festival was known to the Muslim Ummah for a long time. Unfortunately it was ignored by all. Time took its toll and the event change from solemnity to festivity.
Beginning in the 19t h century, a wave of indentured workers were brought by the British from India to Trinidad to work the plantations which had been abandoned by former slaves who had been freed by the abolition of slavery in 1838. By 1917, the end of indentureship, nearly 144,000 workers had been brought to Trinidad. The majority came from the North Indian areas of Agra and Oudh (Awadh), and while most were Hindu, there were Muslims among them, a minority of whom were Shi'a. The Muslims brought their devotional practices with them to the Caribbean and they continued to commemorate the Muharram rituals on the plantations.