Indo-Caribbean Americans

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Indo-Caribbean American
Regions with significant populations
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Indo-Caribbean American people are Americans who trace their ancestry ultimately to India, though whose recent ancestors lived in the Caribbean, where they began migrating in 1838 as indentured laborers. There are large groups of Indo-Trinidadians, Indo-Guyanese, Indo-Surinamese, and Indo-Jamaicans in the United States, especially in New York and Florida. The Washington metropolitan area, California, Texas and Georgia also have small numbers of Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinidadians.

Migration history[edit]

Since the 1960s, a large Indo-Caribbean community has developed in Richmond Hill, New York, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. The Indo-Caribbean population has also grownn rapidly in the Floridian cities of Tampa, Orlando (a large concentration of Indo-Caribbean Americans from New York have migrated here), Fort Myers, Naples, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Saint Lucie, Coral Springs, Margate, North Lauderdale (more than 1% of residents in the city were born in Trinidad & Tobago), Sunrise, Plantation, Parkland, Lauderhill, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, Miramar, Cooper City, Davie, Weston, Southwest Ranches, and Pembroke Pines. Jamaicans of Indian or mixed Indian descent live in moderate numbers throughout Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Indo-Surinamese tend to migrate to the Netherlands, but have started to settle in Florida and the New York metropolitan area in small numbers.

Most Indo-Caribbeans have established themselves in the workforce, contributing largely to the medical, law, retail, and business fields.

Culture and religion[edit]

Most Indo-Caribbean Americans are followers of Hinduism, with a significant minority belonging to Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zorastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, Bahá'í, and other religions. Major holidays such as Diwali, Phagwah, Eid, Hosay, Easter, and Christmas are celebrated on a modest scale with a distinct flavor unique to the Caribbean, often contrasting with the Indian-American community.

The Richmond Hill Phagwah Parade is the largest Holi celebration in the United States. Thousands attend the parade annually each Spring in Queens, with thousands of attendees crowding Liberty Avenue and Smoky Oval Park.

South Florida has become a destination for roti shops, sari/Indian clothing boutiques, threading, mandirs/kovils, derasars/basadis, masjids, gurdwaras, Indian churches, and annual Diwali, Phagwah, Navratri, Hosay, Eid, Vaisakhi, Guru Nanak Gurpurab, Lohri, Paryushana, Mahavir Jayanti, Christmas, and Easter religious events. It is also a popular spot for Indo-Caribbean artists. The Florida Melody Makers are the most well known Indo-Caribbean American band for years and continue to perform around the Southeastern US. WHSR 980 AM hosts musical programming weekly every Saturday and features community leaders like Bhagwan R. Singh, Natty Ramoutar, and Sam Subramani.

Most cultural shows continue to tie a cultural bond between the Indo-Caribbean and Indian-American communities, as well as inter-religious bonding between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, especially those hosted at educational institutions with an Indian student association like Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and the University of Miami.

The Shiva Mandir of Oakland Park, Florida was built in the 1980s by the Florida Hindu Organization and hosts one of the largest annual Diwali shows in Florida. The Shree Saraswati Devi Mandir in Oakland Park, Florida, Krishna Mandir of Hollywood, Arya Samaj Mandir of Plantation, Florida, and Shiva Lingam Temple of Margate are largely attended by Indo-Caribbeans. Plantation High School, a school where most Caribbeans and Asians are of Indian descent, hosted an annual Diwali show from 1993 to 2008. Starting as a one-day event in 2008 and expanding to a three-day event since 2009, the Divali Nagar USA entertains the local community with musical and religious performances, food, and vendors.

Music is a large part of the Indo-Caribbean American community, which includes the tunes of Bollywood, Carnatic music, taan music, bhajans, kirtan, quwwalis, Sufi, chutney music, lok geet, baithak gana, chutney soca, tassa, soca, parang, Bhangragga, bhangra, reggae, steel pan, calypso, and dancehall. Bharatnatyam and kathak are respected classical traditional dances, and bhangra fusion and dance items from Hindi films, Tamil films, and Telugu films have grown in favor as well. With the increasing emphasis on partying, chutney music and soca music are preferred by the young crowd. (see Indo-Caribbean music)

In 2008 the nonprofit organization Jayadevi Arts Inc (JAI) was founded to preserve, present, unite, educate, and promote the arts and culture of Indo-Caribbean communities from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Suriname, and other parts of the Caribbean living in the South Florida area. JAI works to rejuvenate Indo-Caribbean cultural and artistic life and to restore self-esteem to this new American community. Their future events are a United Phagwa Parade, preserving and promoting dying art forms, and educating the youths on Indo-Caribbean traditions and culture.

Statistics[edit]

The size of the Indo-Caribbean community in America is uncertain, as many were classified as either black or Asian. Approximately 400,000 Americans were born in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, the former having an Indian plurality, and the latter being 40% Indian and 18% mixed-race (many of which are part-Indian and part-African). The percentage of these who are of Indian origin, however, is uncertain.

Indo-Guyanese are the majority of the Indo-Caribbean population in the Northeast (while growing in size in Florida, Texas, and Minnesota), while Indo-Trinidadians are the majority in the Southeast. Indo-Jamaicans, Indo-Surinamese, and Indo-Caribbeans from Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados live mostly in the Southeast.

Notable Indo-Caribbean Americans[edit]

Indo-Guyanese Americans[edit]

Indo-Jamaican Americans[edit]

Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian Americans[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]