May 30, 2017
Indian Arrival Day Message from The Honourable Maxie Cuffie,
Minister Public Administration and Communications
On this the centennial anniversary of the end of East Indian Indentureship in Trinidad and Tobago, I join with the rest of the national community in extending best wishes to the East Indian community on the observance of Indian Arrival Day 2017.
The ships that brought our forefathers from India to these shores brought more than just people. They brought the cultures, traditions, and values of peoples of different circumstances, religious beliefs, and economic wherewithal. Today, 172 years later, Trinidad and Tobago is a much better place for that. By sheer dint of their hard work and perseverance in the face of tremendous difficulties, the East Indian community created a space for themselves amidst the many other ethnicities and ideologies transplanted to this space we have grown to call home.
The rich and diverse culture of Indo-Trinbagonians make Trinidad and Tobago an enviably harmonious country. Today, there are the foods, dance, dress, music, song, architecture, art and craft that carry the Trinbagonian stamp, making us proud across the world. We continue to hear strains of the ancestral languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Hindustani, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Arabic, and even Tamil. The culture of enjoying life while rooted in a spiritual core continues to be evident in the secular and spiritual expressions of Phagwah, Divali, Eid, Ram Lila, and the many Yajnas, pujas, kathas and weddings that may be found almost every week in some part of our twin islands. The Islamic call to prayer, “azaan”, is heard daily across the country, more so now as we enter the holy month of Ramadan, and Tassa drumming is ubiquitous, especially when fused with the drums of our other ancestors.
Today, as we celebrate Indian Arrival Day 2017, we are proud of our links with the great nation of India whose sons and daughters have come to achieve beyond the wildest imaginations of their ancestors.
To our young Indo-Trinbagonians, I urge you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you too bring many gifts to this nation. Don’t be too quick to discard the traditions of your ancestors, even as you sow the seeds of your own traditions today. Do not forget the lessons you have learned from your elders, for this is your inheritance which, in your turn, you will use to enrich the life of this land.
I think in particular of the vibrant faith which so many of you possess, and the deep sense of family life which thankfully, still pervades. By contributing your gifts, you will not only find your place here, but you will also help to renew our society from within.
May this year’s celebration be one of great significance, for as we recall an ending 100 years ago, we mark as well, the rich legacy of our ancestors, the enduring presence of our Indo-Trinbagonian brothers and sisters, and the indelible stamp of this community on the tapestry of life woven by mother Trinidad and Tobago.