[Many thanks to Michael O’Neal (Slavery, Smallholding and Tourism) for bringing this item to our attention.] The full title of this post, from by Krystal M. Ramroop’s blog The Art of Storytelling, is “Vinay Harrichan and The Cutlass: Retaining our Indo-Caribbean Culture.” Here are excerpts; see full post at The Art of Storytelling.
Hosted and produced by Vinay Harrichan, an Indo-Trinidadian—and fellow Indo-Caribbean and chutney music lover—who grew up in the United States, The Cutlass is “a progressive podcast and platform dedicated to the Indo-Caribbean community and descendants of indentureship”
Clad in white and veiled in red with her arms crossed in defiance, the brown-skinned woman stands in front of a sugarcane field clutching a cutlass. There is a tattoo—three dots—etched onto her chin and a traditional gold bangle—a notable sign to identify any Indo-Caribbean—clasped around her wrist. With no smile upon her lips, her eyes say it all: strength and resilience amid poverty, abuse, and violence during indentureship. But who could she possibly be? She is our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, our ancestors who were brought from India to Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Mauritius, Fiji, Jamaica, and South Africa (amongst other places) as indentured laborers to toil plantations. Stripped of caste and kin upon separation from their homeland, the journey across the kala pani would be unlike any other.
Hosted and produced by Vinay Harrichan, an Indo-Trinidadian—and fellow Indo-Caribbean and chutney music lover—who grew up in the United States, The Cutlass is “a progressive podcast and platform dedicated to the Indo-Caribbean community and descendants of indentureship” that began in August of 2020. I, having found an immediate affinity with the striking cover artwork, learned that it was conceptualized by Vinay and designed by his cousin Jivan Raghoo, an Indo-Trinidadian medical student and graphic artist. Vinay also disclosed on the platform and podcast in “An Introduction with Vinay Harrichan on Being Indo-Caribbean and the History of Indentureship” that the figure represented his great-grandmother and grandmothers.
The Cutlass rapidly became a substantiating hub for fellow descendants of Indian indentureship to gain access to a rich and sacred history, especially through the Caribbean Hindustani posts—the ancestral language was on the brink of extinction—which Vinay said, “are quite popular and only reaffirms how attached we are to our roots. There are words that some individuals attributed to being inventions in broken English, not realizing their family members had preserved terms rich in history that have since stopped being spoken in South Asia but are alive in the Caribbean.”
His curation of all things Indo-Caribbean on The Cutlass platform ranges from culture, religion, politics, history, and entertainment and extends across the Indian Diaspora with countries of shared indentured roots as well as South Asia. However, the topics addressed have not been taught in the education system and our older generations would have not been allowed to formally digest their traditions and ancestral roots. The podcast features special guests who discuss their work, identity, and how they manage to stay connected to their roots—there is no degree or experience required to appear on The Cutlass—and allows recorded conversations to reach audiences seeking validation on universal identity issues and reflect on and listen to a dialogue that they may not be able to exchange with family and friends. When it comes to both the platform and podcast, Vinay said, “My political perspectives are quite apparent in both the page and podcast, so my intentions to address racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, and other archaic mindsets are clear.” [. . .]
To access the beautifully curated content, follow The Cutlass on Instagram and Twitter (@cutlasspodcast) and listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, JioSaavn, AudioBoom, or iHeartRadio. You can also check out Vinay’s blog here: https://linktr.ee/thecutlass. Inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.