East Indians in Belize comprise four percent (7,000 persons) of the population. Understandably, they have lost almost all of their traditional Indian culture. Interestingly, Indians in Belize are longing to rediscover and re-claim their Indian history, heritage and culture. They are looking towards Trinidad for inspiration, interaction, support and sustenance.
Formally known as British Honduras, Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. Bordered by Mexico in the North and Guatemala in the West and South, it lies at the heart of the Caribbean Basin. Belize has giant Mayan pyramids and the world’s second largest barrier reef. It has a mélange of over ten different cultures which are concentrated in the six districts.
Unlike any other Caribbean country, Belize experienced three waves of Indian migration, commencing in 1858. The first wave of migrants consisted of 1000 deported ex-soldiers (and their families) who had rebelled against the British Government in India’s First War of Independence/Sepoy Rebellion. The second wave of Indians, ex-indentured workers from Jamaica, went to Belize in 1872. The third wave of Indian migrants to Belize came from Guatemala, from where they had gone to work in the coffee plantations in Cafe Mountains.
Unique to Indian history in the Caribbean is the fact that early immigrant labourers worked in Belize in the sugarcane, as well as lumber and banana plantations. As early as the 1860s, they worked under the employment of American ex-confederates. With the passage of time, the mainly-Hindu immigrants have all converted to Christianity, resulting in the absence of temples and lack of festivals in the country. The only remnants of Hindu culture are the special preparation of food with turmeric [curry] and the observance of Hosay/Muharram [Who-se-me-say].
The Corozal Organisation os East Indian Cultural Heritage (COEICH):
Presents a Documentary Film on
“Artifacts of East Indians in Belize: Remembering the past to secure the future”
Producer: Ms. Sylvia Gilharry Perez
Director: Dr. Kumar Mahabir
Narrator: Ms. Tricia M. Perez
Video-grapher, camera & editor: Mr. Dave Rejon
Camera Assistant: Lucy Dougal, Nehru Thompson, Amir
Rivero & Angie Palacio
Music director: A. R. Rahman
Singers: Aka Yagnik
Lyricist: Anand Bakshi
Foundation funding: National Institute of Culture and History
Special Thanks: Joel Clarke, Esther McField, Florentina Ellis,
Rosette Hall, Mario Grant, Samuel Charley, Orvin
Hall, Louisa Jacobs, Caroline Williams, Lillian
Hall, Dorita Sanker and Ernest Hall.
For more information, contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org in Belize or
email@example.com in Trinidad & Tobago
copyright@2011 Sylvia Gilharry Perez & Kumar Mahabir