Multiple Ethnic Groups in Jamaica
Emergence of the Nation.
Independent country in the Caribbean and a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, located south of Cuba and west of Haiti in the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica is the third largest island of the Greater Antilles (island chain in the West Indies that encompasses the nations of Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico).The Jamaican population is made up numerous ethnic groups; The most dominant ethnic groups found in Jamaica are; the Indians, Chinese, Africans and Lebanese. The Indians
Over 36,000 Indians were taken to Jamaica as indentured workers between 1845 and 1917, with around two thirds of them remaining on the island.. The demand for their labour came after the end of slavery in 1830 and the failure to attract workers from Europe. Indian labourers, who had proved their worth in similar conditions in Mauritius, were sought by the Jamaican Government, in addition to workers coming from China. Indian workers were actually paid less than the former West African slaves and were firmly at the bottom on the social ladder. The legacy of these social divisions was to linger for many decades. The Indian Government encouraged indentured labour and recruiting depots were established in Calcutta and Madras although agents were paid significantly less, per recruit, than for a European worker. Most Indians who signed contracts did so in the hope of returning to India with the fruits of their labour, rather than intending to migrate permanently. The Indian Government appointed a Protector of Immigrants in Jamaica, although this office tended to protect the interests of the employers rather than the workers. Although technically the workers had to appear before a magistrate and fully understand their terms and conditions, these were written in English and many workers, signing only with a thumb print, did not comprehend the nature of their service. The Indian- Jamaican Culture
Indians have made many contributions to Jamaican culture. Indian jewellery, in the form of intricately wrought gold bangles, are common on Jamaica, with their manufacture and sale going back to the 1860s. Indians established the island's first successful rice mill in the 1890s and dominated the island's vegetable production until the late 1940s. Forms of Indian dress were adopted by some Jamaicans and can be seen in Jonkonnu processions. Many Christian African-Jamaicans participate alongside Indian-Jamaicans in the Indian inspired cultural celebrations of (Shia Muslims) Hosay and (Hindu) Divali. In the past, every plantation in each parish celebrated Hosay while today it has been rebranded an Indian carnival and is perhaps most well known in Clarendon where it is celebrated each August. Divali, a Hindu festival linked with the reaping of grain, the return of Prince Rama after 14 years in exile, and the victory of good over evil, is celebrated late October to early November on the darkest night of the year. Houses are cleaned and brightly lit and everyone is in high spirits. Approximately 90,000 Indians live in Jamaica today, maintaining their own cultural organizations and roots but assimilated into the wider community. Traditional Indian foods such as curry goat and roti have become part of the national cuisine and are now seen as 'Jamaican'. Alongside Hinduism, the smoking of cannabis was introduced to Jamaica from the Indians. The influence of the Caste system has largely atrophied and arranged marriages are no longer common. Descendants of the immigrant workers have influenced the fields of farming, medicine, politics and even horse-racing. Names such as Patel, Chatani, Chulani, Tewani, Mahtani, Daswani, Vaswani and Chandiram have become synonymous with manufacturing, wholesale, retail and in-bond businesses providing employment for thousands of Jamaicans. Cricketers of an Indian, as opposed to African, background have found success in representing both Jamaica on the domestic scene and...
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