The Indian heritage day will be observed as a national holiday on May 30 in Trinidad. Descendants of Indian immigrants, who now comprise about half of the multi-ethnic society of Trinidad (1.3 million), commemorate the arrival of their ancestors to these shores annually. As Kumar Mahabir explains, the commemoration takes the form of prayers, speeches, songs, music, dances and plays in communal as well as public spaces. The spirit of the day is invoked at various beaches with the reenactment of the landing of the first boat-load of pioneers who gave birth to the Indian community in Trinidad. In most celebrations, replicas of the ship Fath Al Razak are constructed which holds the same sentimental value as the Mayflower has for Americans. At libraries, books and other reading materials are put on display. Schools engage children in art and research competitions, and in the re-construction of their respective family trees. Citizens are encouraged to collect and display old photographs and artifacts relevant to the history of Indians in the Caribbean. Participants recommit themselves to traditional values and celebrate their cultural contributions to the multiethnic society.
“The entire month of May has been deemed as Indian Heritage Month, but May 30th holds a special historical significance. On that day, participants gather to honor their ancestors who had crossed three oceans to travel halfway around the world to reach the Caribbean. They gather to pray for their souls and to seek guidance and blessings for the future. Scholars, teachers and elders share their knowledge of the past and increase public awareness on this important aspect of the nation’s history and heritage. Speakers and writers emphasize the common experience of Indians and Africans under colonial rule, and the links between indentureship and slavery. It is a day of remembrance as well as reflection, and a time for celebration of unity in diversity.”
For full article by Kumar Mahabir, see http://www.trinicenter.com/tnt/2007/250507.html