On days leading up to May 30th, 2013, many Trinbagonians will be taking part in a host of activities celebrating Indian Arrival Day. There will be exhibitions, traditional dancing and singing as well as reenactments of the first arrival of East Indians aboard the Fatel Razak. In fact, this year a budget has been allotted to have Nelson Island restored in time to host one of these reenactments. Nelson Island lies off the northwest coast in the Gulf of Paria. It was used as a quarantine centre for indentured Indians coming to work in Trinidad.
Passed down through generations and generations are stories of struggle and survival throughout the difficult migration from India to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Because many African slaves fled the Sugar Cane and Cocoa plantations, there was an urgent need for new labourers. To fill this void, many estate owners turned to the Indian subcontinent. From 1845 – 1917, over 140,000 persons from India (some by coercion) made the treacherous 3 month journey across open seas and aboard cargo ships with horrid living conditions. Why? Some in search of better living standards, perhaps a whole new life. Some even in search of adventure or grabbed at the opportunity to escape legal matters back at home.
This important immigration has served to mold Trinidad and Tobago in many ways. Many migrating laborers brought along with them native Indian plants as well as traditional crafts. Cultural and religious traditions have also made a strong mark on Trinidad and Tobago. Today, many take part in religious celebrations like Eid-ul-Fitr, celebrated by Muslims, and Phagwa which is a Hindu festival.
Trinidad and Tobago has a very rich and diverse ancestry. If you’re around for this cultural celebration, we encourage you to visit the many activities happening all around the country.