173rd Anniversary of Indians’ Arrival in Jamaica: Commemoration Conducted with Dignity and Cultural Pride
We have inherited many cultural values from our fore-parents who brought these with them from India. Despite their hardships and sometimes their traumatic experience on the sugar plantations, they never allowed these values to become a casualty of the process or the system.
At the annual Indian Arrival Day (IAD) commemoration at Chedwin Park St Catherine, not far from Old Harbor where the first batch of East Indian immigrants landed, the indomitable spirit of the descendants of East Indian immigrants was evident. Notwithstanding the deluge on Sunday May 6, 2018, the participants at the IAD event were steadfast in their support of the rich Indian cultural program. With portable canvas tents and multiple brands of umbrellas, they were determined to observe the 173rd anniversary of the arrival of East Indians in the beautiful island of Jamaica.
The torrential downpour continued until the Monday (May 7th) morning. However, there were periodic breaks in the downpour that allowed the crowd to move around in the Park to meet and great friends and acquaintances. The good thing too was that the ground was not soggy. We have been told that many people who had headed to Chedwin Park had to turn back home because of the incessant heavy rainfall.
The two days prior to Sunday May 6th were enveloped by glorious weather with the sun passing through the silvery passing clouds with relative ease and signaling no indication of the inclement weather to arrive on Sunday (IAD). But the people who had already made it to the Park would not turn back. They remained there and showed that rain was no barrier to their feelings of joy and a sense of achievement for the long journey of their fore-parents that they have continued. In our estimation the bulk of the crowd remained at the Park until 8pm.
The IAD was put together by a Jamaican stalwart Dr Winston Tolan, who apparently shows greater cultural than medical skills! He invited the Shiv Shakti Dance troupe from Trinbago as well as some singers. There was a local Jamaican musical team. From Florida was Pt Neil Persad who is also an excellent musician. New York's Robert Mohamed of WICR (1620 am) Radisson was a special guest.
While the cultural artistes were busy entertaining the guests, the food vendors were doing brisk business with their wide assortment of ethnic food. No alcohol was allowed into the Park. Many Jamaicans who are resident overseas also attended the IAD. A proportion of the crowd consists of Afro-Jamaicans who fully participate in the event.
The Minister of Culture was not able to attend the event on Sunday but his message was delivered by one of his assistants. He was dressed in Indian attire and greeted the crowd with the word "namaste." He traced the history of the Indian presence in Jamaica and commended them for their contribution. The Minister of Culture claims a degree of Indian heritage. What is most important though is that the Ministry of Culture’s expression of strong support for this event. He pledged to continue offering the government's support to IAD as well as to the Diwali and the Phagwah festivals. The Minister's message was very self-assuring to the descendants of Indian immigrants in particular. We commend the Jamaican people for honoring the contribution of their fore-parents and for paying due respect to their history. Great job! Congratulations!