Port-of-Spain, May 31: Trinidad celebrated its 168th Indian Arrival Day with street parades, religious services, plays, skits and re-enactments of the first landing on May 30, 1845.
Trinidad's president Justice Anthony Carmona, in his message marking Indian Arrival Day, said that despite the challenges it faces this country, "continues to serve as a beacon to the world of the possibilities that exist for extremely diverse population to live in mutual harmony and respect".
"Last Saturday's graphic and chilling re-enactment of the arrival of the East Indian indentured immigrants at Nelson Island, helps to remind us of the trauma, sense of dislocation and anguish as they suffered in crossing the Kala Paani (dark water)."
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in her message, said that India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru had noted that culture is the widening of the mind and spirit.
"We have all embraced the spirit of the varied cultures and traditions of the many peoples who have come to our shores and have made our country the beautiful place that it is, despite the ever-present challenges that beset us as a growing democracy," the prime minister said.
She added that this ship brought not only a new labour force to assist in the economic development of our twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, but also a new people with a new culture.
She said that Trinidad and Tobago, though geographically small, our stature is elevated by our creativity, our capacity to attract new business and our gravitas for bringing to the forefront issues of global concern".
India's high commissioner Malay Mishra said that India was connected to Trinidad and Tobago because of Indian Arrival Day, both literally and figuratively, when the Fatel Rozack carrying 225 passengers docked on the shores of Trinidad May 30, 1845.
"Thus began a glorious journey in the annals of time. We take this time to bow down in reverence and affection to hose souls who came in shiploads year after year and made this land their home," Mishra said.
Minister of Legal Affairs, Prakash Ramadhar noted that Indian Arrival day was not just another day in our calendar of events, but a day by which we connect with the Indian Diaspora worldwide.
"Indian Arrival Day has religious, spiritual, economic and deep human meanings to all of us as it form part of world history. Our Indian brothers and sisters must always remain in our prayers for their dedication and commitment in shaping the destiny of our country," Ramadhar noted.
Sunita Pahuja, second secretary, Hindi and Education, said that the teaching of Hindi continues to spiral in this country, and this initiative helps to knit both countries closer every day.
Between 1845 and 1917, approximately 148,000 East Indians came from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to work on the sugar and cocoa plantations.