Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian

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Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians
Sampson Nanton interviews former Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Basdeo Panday in 1997.jpg
Kamla Persad-Bissessar - World Economic Forum on Latin America 2011.jpg
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Miss Trinidad Tobago 07 Valene Maharaj.jpg
Total population
35.4% of the Trinidadian and Tobagonian population (2011)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Trinidad and Tobago · United States · United Kingdom · Canada · Venezuela
English (Trinidadian· Hindi · Urdu · Gujarati · Avadhi · Bengali · Kannada · Tamil, Telugu
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Aryan peoples, Dravidian people

Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago of India ancestry. Linguistically they are collectively known as the speakers of the Indo-Aryan Hindustani languages typically Hindi and ethnically, they are more specifically known as the Arya Hindavi people (People of Hind) an ethno/linguistic group coming primarily from the north-central Indian region of Hind which is located in the Gangetic Plain of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers in North India, between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas. They are usually categorized with multiple identities, with a more localized prioritized ethnic orientation, for example, Bihari people, Haryanvi people, Avadhi people, Malvi people, Himachali people, Bhojpuri people, in addition to further tribal, village, or religious identities.

In his book Perspectives on the Caribbean: A Reader In Culture, History, and Representation, Philip W. Scher cites figures by Steven Vertovec, Professor of Anthropology; Of 94,135 Indian immigrants to Trinidad, between 1874-1917, 50.7 percent were from the NW/United Provinces (an area, which today, is largely encompassed by Uttar Pradesh), 24.4 percent hailed from the historic region of Oudh (Awadh), 13.5 percent were from Bihar, and lesser numbers from various other states and regions of the Indian Subcontinent, such as Punjab, West Bengal, and South India [primarily Madras (Chennai)] (as cited in Vertovec, 1992). Out of 134,118 indentured laborers from India, 5,000 distinguished themselves as "Madrasi" from the port of Madras and the immigrants from Calcutta as "Kalkatiyas".

Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians has now become interchangeable with Indians or East Indians. These were people who were escaping poverty in India and seeking employment offered by the British for jobs either as indentured laborers, workers or educated servicemen, primarily, between 1845-1917. [2] [3]

The demand for Indian indentured labourers increased dramatically after the abolition of slavery in 1834. They were sent, sometimes in large numbers, to plantation colonies producing high value crops such as sugar in Africa and the Caribbean.In his book Finding a Place, author, journalist, editor, and academic Kris Rampersad challenges and rejects the notion of East Indians to describe people in Indian heritage in the Caribbean and traces their migration and adaptation from hyphenated isolation inherent in the description Indo-Trinidadian or Indo-Caribbean for the unhyphehnated integration into their societies as Indo-Trinidadian and Indo-Caribbean that embraces both their ancestral and their national identities.

Culture and religion[edit]

Some Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians can trace their ancestry to indentured labourers who immigrated to Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Grenada, or other islands in the Caribbean. Many are descendants of later immigrants from India.

The majority of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians are Hindu, with Christianity being the second most prevalent religion. A small minority of Indo-Trinidadians are Muslim. Three national holidays, Indian Arrival Day, Divali and Eid-ul-Fitr are primarily celebrated by Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians. The Parliamentary Government, the United National Congress, draws most of its support from the Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian community, and the new party: The Congress of the People

A major Hindu organisation in Trinidad is the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha led by Satnarayan Maharaj. The major Muslim organisation is the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA) led by Yacoob Ali. Although these organisations were once seen to speak for the vast majority of Hindus and Muslims in Trinidad, their membership has gradually eroded but they still remain the largest organized voice for the respective Indian communities.

Trinidadian and Tobagonians that consider themselves Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians have retained their distinctive culture, unlike the original South Asian people that arrived earlier as indentured servants, but also function in a multi-racial milieu. The Hindi, Urdu, and Bhojpuri languages of their ancestors have largely been lost, although a number of these words have entered the Trinidadian vernacular. Indian movies, Indian music and Indian cooking have entered the mainstream culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Chutney music rivals calypso and soca music during the Carnival season. Divali and Eid ul-Fitr are national holidays, and Hosay (Ashura) Phagwah is widely celebrated.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Under colonial rule, India's population provided the British Empire with a ready source of cheap and mobile labourers. Many Indians agreed to become indentured labourers to escape the widespread poverty and famine in the 19th century. Some travelled alone; others brought their families to settle in the colonies they worked in.
  3. ^ National Archives-UK
  • Kris Rampersad: Naipaul was no fluke:


  • Kris Rampersad on Caribbean Muslims: