Lalla Rookh

5 Jun


5th June 1873 was the day on which the  ship, Lalla Rookh, arrived with the first group of laborers from India. After the abolition of slavery in 1863, there was a shortage of cheap labor on the Surinamese plantations so therefore workers were brought from India. Their predecessors, the Chinese and Portuguese labors, did not meet the need. And, therefore, recruitment of settlers, targeting other countries, notably India. The recruitment center was the Indian city, Calcutta, and most of the immigrants were from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. False promised were made to the poor people. They were promised a golden future. But no, they came here as contractors, for 5 years, to work on the various plantations. On arrival in Suriname, the workers were spread throughout the plantations  over the whole country. The amount they earned was not much. They were underpaid. The contractors were often put to work on the sugar plantations and in agriculture field. Gradually, the Hindustani  managed to gain an important place in Suriname. During and after World War II  many of the British Indian immigrants moved to the capital, Paramaribo, for more opportunities to work and study.

2008-05-31%20-%20Hindostaanse%20immigranten   Tropenmuseum_Royal_Tropical_Institute_Objectnumber_60012346_Brits-Indische_immigranten_in_het_koe
Former contract workers were called British Indians, but a descendantsis now called a Hindustani (Hindostani).
Today, the Hindustani are, second, to the largest ethnic groups in Suriname. Also there are approximately 50,000 of them who moved before the independence of the country in 1975, to the Netherlands. According to Wikipedia, there are about 120,000 living descendants of the Surinamese Hindustani in the Netherlands.


The culture is largely preserved. The language, a mixture of Bhojpuri and dialects of Bihar, which is influenced by the Dutch, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese a local dialect) and even English, is called  Sarnami (Sarnami Hindustani). The religions practiced in the Hindustani, are Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Hinduism has two groups: the Sanatan Dharma and the Arya Samadj. Most Muslims are Sunnis and Ahmediyyas. There are not many Christians among the Hindustanis, but many of them are Catholic and Moravians. Although traditional clothing is not worn everyday, people like to dress in the Indian clothing inspired by Bollywood, for traditional and cultural festivals. There is also a local song and dance form developed, Chutney and Bhaitak, but Bollywood songs are also a favorite. The most popular musical instruments are tabla, harmonium and dhol. Even the Hindustani cuisine is similar, but adjusted to the environment. Roti, rice and masala (curry) are still used, but in addition they have their own snacks. Roti is very popular among the Surinamese.


Today, the 138 years Hindustani Immigration is celebrated. Over these 138 years they have reached a high level. I am one of the descendants of the British Indian immigrants. India is the country where my ancestors come from, but there are now differences in customs and cultural experience. And since I was born and raised in Suriname, I see myself as one … a Surinamese with the Hindustani background.

You must be thinking why I named this blog Lalla Rookh? This, because with the arrival of this ship, the story of the Hindustanis began.

Note: The photos used in this blog are not mine but adapted from Wikipedia


17 Responses to “Lalla Rookh”

  1. Lara 06/06/2011 at 04:07 #

    a piece of history, a tale about destinies.

  2. Pavan Kaul 07/06/2011 at 08:53 #

    Beautifully documented Kavita!

    • fotovita 08/06/2011 at 23:04 #

      Thank You very much, Pavan. I really appreciate this:)

  3. tede 07/06/2011 at 14:41 #

    A great lesson of history that we present you, very interesting, thank you for sharing. Good day.

    • fotovita 08/06/2011 at 23:03 #

      I appreciate your visit and comment. Thanx a lot!

  4. hugo 07/06/2011 at 15:35 #

    What a piece of history! Reading it evokes lots of thoughts and feelings (I was born and raised in the “British Colony” of Hong Kong)! Love the pics you selected!

    • fotovita 08/06/2011 at 23:02 #

      Thank you very much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, Hugo. I read about the time when Hong Kong was a part of Britain. Thank you and keep visiting my blog!

  5. Nicou 08/06/2011 at 16:26 #

    Superbe site, bravo très très intéressante et de belles iamge.
    Bravo et amitié

    • fotovita 08/06/2011 at 23:01 #

      cher ami, je vous remercie pour les paroles merveilleuses. Garder mon regard blog! Merci!

    • fotovita 06/07/2011 at 00:49 #


  6. Pavan Kaul 09/06/2011 at 11:39 #

    Fabulous work!

  7. Xiaoyu He 15/06/2011 at 18:43 #

    Really wonderful,thanks so much for the pictures and info,just great!

  8. Pascale Goswami 21/06/2011 at 19:57 #

    an interesting text assiciated to a beautiful picture looking like a old picture.

    • fotovita 05/07/2011 at 22:45 #

      They are old pictures, Pascale. Thank you for visiting my blog!

  9. 1873 03/07/2011 at 18:43 #

    (you wrote 1973)
    nu ga ik verder lezen

    • fotovita 05/07/2011 at 22:47 #

      Dankjewel. Dat foutje heb ik echt over et hoofd gezien. Thank You!

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