Rowley Went To India Looking for Jhandis?

By Stephen Kangal
March 29, 2012

Stephen KangalYears ago T&T’s former HC to India, Mr. Reginald Dumas went visiting the rural villages of the Indian state of Bihar assiduously looking for “jhandis” and found them. Last week another Afro-Tobagonian, Opposition Leader the Hon. Keith Rowley used the occasion of the CPA meeting being held in India to search for the elusive “jhandis” and according to him found none. And this after the PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar just returned from her Indian safari when the question of the rurally remote, sometimes inaccessible villages (pur) of the States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from which the “girmitiyas” came to T&T bearing their ‘Jahajee bundles” was well-documented.

Mr. Rowley was of the view that India was culturally speaking a homogeneous society and appeared not to know that our T&T Bhojpuri culture originated from these villages. Perhaps he should consult Dr. Sat Balkaransingh who recently presented a seminal work on the linkages between Indian cultural spaces in T&T and places in the Indian sub-continent.

Readers will recall that former PM Manning exulted in his no-shows at Indian functions and relegated “Indian” into a bad word.

Did Mr. Rowley also try to locate other local Indian practices such as areas cooking dhalpuri roti, doubles, Indians wearing “dhotis” and speaking the unique Trinidad-style Bhojpuri dialect? Did he try to look for and to attend a “katha” or a T&T-style Hindu wedding? Was cultural curiosity driving Rowley’s search for “jhandis”? Or was he looking at contemporary, urban-based Indian religious practices to validate or discredit an omnipresent, Caribbean Hinduism symbolic ritual dating back to pre- 1845 Bihar/Uttar Pradesh?

Having confessed that he found no “jhandis” in the urban India including in the Palace of the Indian President Smtee Pratibha Patel that he visited, has he now concluded that T&T Hindus are imbeciles practicing a Caribbean-wide ritual that has neither origins nor manifestations in the towns of India that he visited?

Mr. Rowley from his recent futile search for “jhandis” in modern urban India reflects the ignorance and arrogance towards the cultural practices of the Hindus of T&T that is embedded within the DNA of the PNM past and present. In his diminishing quest for leadership of a culturally diverse society such as T&T and seeing that Caribbean Hinduism has now reached the shores of Tobago he must, as Opposition Leader of the PNM, seek to establish an outreach initiative to embrace the authenticity, persistence and validity of the cultural practices of the Indians, demonstrate his support for its genuine inclusion in the multicultural fabric of T&T and thereby salvage some dwindling electoral support as the necessary quid pro quo to become Prime Minister of T&T.

10 Responses to “Rowley Went To India Looking for Jhandis?”


  • Stephen Kangal, what is your purpose for writing: enlightenment or mischief?

    It appears to be ‘projecting'; that is effectively using slander to accuse others of what you yourself might represent: ignorance and arrogance?

    This tactic was first adopted in Scripture by Lucifer. In the Garden of Eden, he accused the Creator to His Creation of being untrustworthy. In the New Testament, using his minions in the Sanhedrin leadership, he accused Yeshua (Jesus) of being Beelzebub.

    Your article, in text and subtext, appears intended to be demeaning and triumphalist.

    For example, your line of ‘Caribbean Hinduism’ reaching the shores of Tobago’ speaks to what you consider to be a future in TnT where the descendants of Africans will be reduced to a museum minority, or less.

    Indians will finally have arrived when the Africans have been departed. And no need to be coy or ambiguous about what is ‘destiny’!

    Would you also assume that Hinduism–not the Caribbean brand–but the nursing-mother of the brands colonizing Fiji, East Africa and elsewhere, also tried to take the shores of what today is Kashmir and Pakistan?

    Why do you assume that the consequences with Tobago, and with Trinidad will ultimately be any different?

    You have shown in the past some tendency towards perspicacity and objectivity. Why in public discourse you so readily revert to inanity and vainglory?

    It is not difficult, thereby, to know what your assumptions and intentions are when done and considered in private?

    Shalom.

  • Mr. Kangal seems to repeatedly revel in some sort of weekly bombastic celebration of Hinduism and in his mind Indianism in the Caribbean.
    The purpose and relevance of this article to the multiculturalism of which he speaks escape most literate readers.
    Mr. Kangal is so caught up in holding up and playing up the good fortune of the new PM and her government, which I suspect he incorrectly perceives to be Hindu, that cannot contain himself.
    Let us hope that the Hindus who invade the shores of Tobago quietly worship their Gods without practicing the Christian practice of conversion and self righteousness.
    Does Mr. Kangal realize that there are vast numbers of Indians who are not preoccupied with the poverty stricken villages from which their ancestors came?
    Does he realize that after visiting these villages many Indians rejoiced that their ancestors escaped to the Caribbean?

    • “…In his diminishing quest for leadership of a culturally diverse society such as T&T and seeing that Caribbean Hinduism has now reached the shores of Tobago he must, as Opposition Leader of the PNM, seek to establish an outreach initiative to embrace the authenticity, persistence and validity of the cultural practices of the Indians, demonstrate his support for its genuine inclusion in the multicultural fabric of T&T and thereby salvage some dwindling electoral support as the necessary quid pro quo to become Prime Minister of T&T….”

      Mr.T Man would you not agree that this quote from my article describes what is multiculturalism generated strategy?

      • Mr. Kangal, your juxtaposition of the words “Indian” and “Hindu” is questionable.
        You also treat religion and culture as if there were no differences between these two concepts.
        You cannot,as a spokesman for Hindus,it seems, profess to speak for all Indians in T&T.
        At the same time you would be more credible if you also advocate for the acceptance of other “cultures” by Hindus in the country of T&T.

  • T Man please read my article” Alternative to Crossing the Kala Pani’ in this blog as well as “Mathur dealing with Psycho cultural falsities” and see the reasons to apologise for being per incuriam in your conclusions.

  • Stephen, why can’t Rowley go to India. If I have the opportunity to go to India, I would! If you had the opportunity to go to an African country, would you go?

    • Brilliant
      I did not object to Rowley’s visit and his bowing to the Indian dignitaries as Kamla. I wanted to ascertain:
      — why he wanted to see if there were Jhandis in India;
      and what is the significance of his saying that he did not see any; and
      why was it so important to say so at the press conference.
      There was more in his mortar than the pestle if you can ketch my drift.
      I have already visited Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya and will go there any time but not to look for Shango dance or kalinda stick-fight because these are indigenous to T&T and legitimately sui generis.

  • I hope that readers will appreciate that on this blog I am one of the few providing insights into the Indian question in order to promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. There must be an interest in understanding things Indian T&T in order to achieve balance and earn legitimacy. Why did Rowley mention that he did not see jhandis if not to discredit this Hindu practice in T&T?
    Rowley should have taken the time to go to Lakshmanpur and Bhelupur or to those villages from which the indentures originated if he wanted to see jhandis and find justification for the planting of jhandis in the PM’s residence by former PM Panday. Or he should read Dr.Sat Balkaransingh’s thesis that has a whole section on jhandis in both T&T and India. The respect for the Indian point of view or perspective is a legitimate conditionality for harmonious life in this rainbow diverse country that we know as home. I want to see the analysts and commentators reflect the variety of perspectives in this country in the three dailies and not be monopolised by a few because this is foisting dishonesty on the reading public who expect all shades of opinions and value systems to be given their legitimate space to be aired on national issues in T&T.

  • There must be an interest in understanding things Indian T&T in order to achieve balance and earn legitimacy. Why did Rowley mention that he did not see jhandis if not to discredit this Hindu practice in T&T?

    This speaks exacly to the observations of neverdirty. Equating balance and earning legitimacy with the inculcation of the culture of one segment of the T&T population is as bigotted a concept as I have ever heard expressed. And frankly, I believe that Africans, after four centuries of this kind of perspective, will not be interested in a repetition by the self chosen successors to the previous dynasty.

    Africans respect tolerance, we have no use for ethnic ego mastubatory self massaging. We did not bring ethnic or racial prejudice and intolerance to T&T, we are the historical and traditional victims of this sickness. All of the other groups that came to this land came with some remnants of religious and cultural belief systems that quantified the worth of humans based on some defined characteristic.

    The constancy and perpetuation of this attitude in T&T is a product of people wanting to have their cake and eat it too. They want the right to hold on to hereditary prejudices and intolerances because of the ethnic ego masturbatory high it provides for them, while at the same time beating on their chests and claiming victim hood to the same kind of attitudes. Bit of Freudian psychological defense lamentations. The problem is, however, after years of enjoying twin bites of this political cherry, the receptiveness of the target audience has waned or is rapidly waning. Especially when the psychotropic effect of the ethnic self hugging causes them to make Freudian slips in their presentations.

  • Sir Kangal here the issue is a non issue really,both Indian and african share a unique intersesection.
    Flags as stadards indicate the prescence of the Supreme Intelligence.Hence the ANCIENT EGYPTIAN PHONOGRAM(BOTH IGOGRAPHIC AND SYLLABIC) three consonant [ntr] that is to say pronounced Neter meaning “god”.”The hieroglyph for Ntr looks like a flag because in the pre-dynastic period roadside shirnes were marked with long pennant flags on a very tall flagpole”.Thus whether metaphysical,cosmic or terrstial flags customar flown in africa and India ancient and modern whether now retain by spiritual Baptists and Hiudus practitioners are to be respespected and understood.
    If this offend the ignorance of our modernity and foolish consideration these are the facts,proof of this can be gleaned from a copy of Egyptian,Book of the Dead or(c.f Slalomi-Hen 2006:20-21 ) discussions about Tomb of queen Mrsy nhh 111.
    A visit to Haiti and some African countries one can find the practice still at large.

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