07 May 2020


In commemoration of Indian Heritage Month, celebrated during this month of May, the National Library and Information System Authority’s (NALIS), Heritage Library will be featuring segments on its Facebook page highlighting the various aspects of East Indian history and culture here in Trinidad and Tobago.

Each week during the month of May, different aspects of East Indian heritage will be presented. The first introductory segment will feature information and videos on the arrival of the first East Indians to Trinidad and the importance of Nelson Island as a processing point for these labourers en route to the estates. The second week will feature the contributions the East Indians made to the rich cuisine of our nation, whereby popular foods, such as roti, curry and doubles, which are highly sought after by both locals and foreigners alike the world over. The third week will focus on the rich cultural contributions the East Indians made to the nation in the form of dance, music and clothing. The fourth and final week will culminate with information and video content highlighting the religions and religious festivals brought to Trinidad by the East Indians as well as the lives of some notable persons of East Indian descent and their contributions to the history and development of the nation.

Through this initiative, citizens can still access the same credible and educational content they have come to rely on from NALIS’ libraries and the Heritage Library in particular which is known for providing reference and research materials on and about Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean, from the comfort of their homes. Persons can visit NALIS’ Heritage Library’s Facebook page throughout the month of May to learn about the rich and vibrant heritage of the East Indian presence here in Trinidad and Tobago.

Arrival of East Indians to Trinidad

The arrival of the East Indians to Trinidad spanned over the period of 1845 to 1917 whereby over 140,000 East Indians were transported to the island. The arrival of these East Indian indentured labourers, with the first to arrive on the ship named Fatel Razack, not only brought about a new labour force to assist economic development in Trinidad but also a new people with a new culture. After the emancipation of the enslaved Africans, it was East Indian immigration which proved to be the most important source of labour for the plantations. They have made significant contributions not only in agriculture but all the professions in society. Indian Heritage Month culminates with the commemoration of Indian Arrival Day on May 30, which celebrates the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India to Trinidad, which forever changed the cultural landscape of the island. These immigrants and their descendants, through their customs and practices further added to the rich mosaic which is Trinidad and Tobago society and became true sons and daughters of this nation.