SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND SOCIAL PROCESSES KIRT’ SUDAMA ESSAY QUESTION “The Indo-Trinidadian family retains much of their cultural heritage.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? ” In the year 1845, the first set of indentured labours set foot on the island of Trinidad under the European rule, to work on the plantation estates. Among these labours were the East Indians. They were brought under a contract which the conditions were that they would be paid, given a home to live in, be able to grow their own food and would have the opportunity to travel back to India after their five (5) ears of service.Within time, the East Indians learnt of the European deeds and their ways as many of these indentured labours were treated the same as the African slaves. At the end of their five year contract, some of them choose to stay as they were granted a sum of land by the colony but some left. When the East Indians came, they brought with them many things such as their culture, religion and practices, clothing, tools, utensils, musical instruments and many more Just to name a few.To argue the point of whether or not the Indo-Trinidadian family retains much of their ultural heritage would be to a certain extent as over the years, many of these have retained their value where as some has been modified. To begin with, Religion can be looked at as the most important aspect of the Indo-Trinidadian culture.
The main religion of the East Indians when they came was Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion that stem from the Vedic religion. Within this religion, there are many different religious books and stories that teach Hindus about life and living.There are also many different Gods that they pray too which each play a different role in the lives of n everyday person. The widely known book that was brought by the east Indians is the Ramayan, which speaks of the story of Lord Ram and Devi Sita. This book is still used widely by all Hindus of Trinidad and Tobago in todays society.
The downfall of religion within the Indo-Trinidadian race was that many of the indentured labours converted their religion to that of Christianity in order to obtain certain grants that were offered by the Europeans such as the ability to obtain an education for their children.Due to this impact, today, many of our East Indian race carry different eligions other than that of Hinduism thus creating some broken families within the and also, the loss of many traditions and beliefs that existed. In addition to those lost, in todays society the role of Technology has a major impact on the Religion of the Indo-Trinidadian. Many of the priests today no longer use the traditional books to teach their Katha or discourse.
Instead they use an “E-book” version in which it is translated into simple English with English discussion and context thus making the religious book lose its value and the lost of the actual context.This shows that the alue of religion is still being carried on but is being modified by the impact of technology and the wider society. Family also played an important role in East Indian culture. During indentureship, the family style was mainly that of extended, as parents encouraged their children to stay within the same household and raise their own children. This was an incentive in order to keep family bonds between parent and child and also to avoid conflict of generation gaps as well as to control the amount of income that was coming into the family from both parent and working children.
These families tend to be large in number as it consisted of a mother and father, at least four children and either the parents of the mother or father. The Indo- Trinidadian family sought to have many children as they would be of assistance in the work field and contribute to the family income; however, it was mainly insisted that the indo-women bear male children. Female children during indentureship was seen as a burden as when they came of the age to marry, parents had to give a “Dowry’ as in incentive to the groom side to agree for the marriage and also assist them in their married lives.Now in these modern days, Indo-Trinidadian families are smaller in size as they evolved to mainly the nuclear family type as a way to avoid conflicts between family members and be able to create and live life as they want to and they bear fewer children as they no longer have to work on the plantations. The effect of this change is that children are not able to obtain the knowledge and traditions that is usually passed down from grandparents to grandchildren as a mean of interaction and bonding.
This also shows that some aspects of the values of family still exist within the Indo-Trinidadian community but has evolved due to the nfluence of the wider society. Marriages within the Indo-Trinidadian community during indentureship were not recognized by the state and were considered what we know today as Common Law union, as well as they were usually arranged by parents as they saw that they knew who the best partner for their child and as well to strengthen bonds between friends of the family and keep their traditions alive.Alongside this was the ritual of the Dowry, as mentioned before, which was usually sum of money or some sort of assets high in value that was demanded by and given to the grooms family. Within recent times, these customs has changed. Marriages are now fully registered by law, it is decided on by the children themselves as they now look for love based marriages and someone who is of their choice and not their parents, as well as, children are no longer married at the earliest age of thirteen (13).
The ritual of the Dowry still exists here in Trinidad but it is not as demanding as it first was, as now the Dowry can be anything agreed on between the two families. Marriages have also evolved into inter-racial unions, as many Indo- Trinidadians find their life partners outside of their own race for example there are several marriages etween Africans and Indians as well as Indians and Chinese. These changes within Caste System, as Indo-Trinidadians no longer have to stick within their own class to marry and can marry someone of a different class higher or lower than they are.Marriages have also changed in terms of the divorce rates. Traditionally, married couples had to stay together no matter what problems they face throughout their life; however, this tradition is not held in todays society as marriages where abuse is present, cheating or even loss of interest have lead to divorce and/or separation. The East Indian diaspora in Trinidad have been affected greatly by education.
Education among the Indo-Trinidadian was of basic skills and traits.The boys learnt with their male fgures how to work on the plantation estates and to do general basic things like fetching water and hunting for food at times where as the girls learnt from the female figures on how to cook, clean and run a household. The European government deliberately kept the Indians out of the education main stream system unless they wanted to learn to speak English as Hindi was regarded as a backward language.This hus encouraged the Indo-Trinidadians to break away from their native language and learn English in order to obtain an education as it was seen as the stepping stone from the poverty that was common to many Indian families after the end of indentureship. Access to education was limited in the early years and parents worked hard to send at least one child of many to a school, with Just a minority investing and building wealth for themselves and their families as culturally, accumulating wealth and passing it on is a norm.
As more gained access to education over the years, options in other careers arose. Business began to spread.Many businesses today have been passed down from parent to children for several generations even. Many of the Indo-Trinidadian has also sought different careers such as in Medicine, Law and Engineering. With the rise of educational opportunity, this brought about a decline in the dissemination of traditional stories, traditional values and beliefs, religious instruction, a decline in religious participation, and a loss of many other characteristic cultural aspects due to the westernization imbedded in foreign-based education. The loss of interest in cultural practice was due to a lack of nowledge and understanding.Language is also an important aspect of the Indentured labours. When they came they spoke mainly Hindi, Urdu and Bhojpuri.
It was their means of communication among themselves and their gods. Education, however, had a severe effect on language. With the need for English literacy, local Indian dialects such as Bhojpuri and Urdu have died out due to the goal of obtaining a wealth and comfort. Our great grandparents did not want their children to be discriminated because of what the Europeans viewed as a “low language” and therefore encouraged their children to learn the language that is known and ccepted worldwide.
This then created and contributed to the dialect of the Trinidadian Creole English. As the Indians tried to learn English some of their Hindi integrated into the language and created some of the words we use today in our everyday lives. Words such as Dhal, Chunkay, Belna, Nan’, Nanna, Ma, Ban-Dhania and many others are simple words that generated from Hindi and the East Indians. However, this had also impacted gravely on the Indo-Trinidadians. With the lost of their native language, Indo-Trinidadians can no longer read their religious scriptures ithout the help of someone who knows the language.Hindi is not a language to those who are willing.
It is taught in the Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha board schools for a maximum of three years, once a term per year. Some institutions offer it, including UWI as a short course, but it has very few applications in these modern times save for foreign relations, scriptural studies or one’s own self interest, thus leading to the lost of this cultural impact. As the fortunes of some families grew and their wealth matured, the economic activity generated became significant to the landscape of Trinidad.Some of the existing contractors and contracting businesses today have been born of the hard work of a single Indo-Trinidadian family. These big businesses grew through decades of development locally and world changes in economics and economic activities. Economic activity stimulated by some Indian families decades ago, provided skill learning and Job opportunities for many. Education played a major role in the development of economic activity among the Indian families as well. They sought education and made goals of achieving Jobs which paid high salaries such as lawyers, medical doctors and business.
The result as been that a significant percentage of upper class families today are of East Indian origin. And they have some play on the economic activities and decisions made within the country. This class-based mobility allowed for political involvement. Another significant factor in Indo-Trinidadian involvement deals with Political involvement and societal benefits as a part of the teachings generated from scriptural induction, mainly from the Ramayan and Mahabharat epics which were used as the main scriptures of the Indians in Trinidad.
Names such as Basdeo Pandey and Rudranath Capildeo come from East Indian origins.The Impact of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and the legacy of Bhadase Sagan Maharaj is no small feat with in the annals of Trinidadian history. On a smaller note, customs of dress, food, music and social life still have a greater impact on society than those previously mentioned. This is so because much of the same aspects that the first Indo- Trinidadians had established regarding cloths, food, musical instruments and socialization still exist throughout the country. For instance, the foods that were brought such as dhal, channa, cucumber and many more seedlings are still being sed by everyone.
The style of cooking still also remains in the homes of the Indo- Trinidadian families. Clothing has changed from the indentured labours plain sari’s and doti to modernized Jeans and tops, however, with the impact of fashion design, these traditional wear are now fancier and richer and are worn only to special events. The amazing fact about clothing is that not only the Indo-Trinidadian wears it but also members of the different races who enjoy participating in portraying the East Indian style of clothing. Their musical instruments such as the Dolak, MaJira,Dhantal, Tabla, Harmonium and Tassa still hold a great impact and are used nearly every day, whether in Satsung or songs on the radio, these musical instruments continue to strive and carry on the cultural name. Indo Trinidadians are known for their socialization and social life.
They are always home oriented and love family or friend gatherings. They still continue to carry about yearly festivals where any and everyone are invited to Join and participate in the fun. This goes to show that the Indo-Trinidadian still value certain aspects as their ancestors did and would live to arry on these traditions.To say whether or not it can be agreed that the Indo- understatement. This is so because they have not only held on to these traditions, but allowed social factors and the wider society to contribute and modify these traditions which makes an impact on them which many cause them their existence in the Caribbean. However, one must be open minded to the changes of the world as new ideas and inventions are to either create greatness or hinder opportunities and the Indo-Trinidadian community should be weary of this as it would be important to old on to one’s own culture and not allow it to be lost completely.REFERENCES Countries and Their Cultures.
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