What Do You Love About Being Indo-Caribbean?
There is so much to love about being Indo-Caribbean. Trust me, I know.
From the people, to the food, to the music, to the languages, vibrancy and appreciation is abundant throughout the culture. And while it is not particularly unique for individuals to be proud of their culture, for Indo-Caribbeans, it is a form of protest. Despite the despair, horrors, and abuse many of our ancestors experienced, our community resisted and persisted.
As a means of celebration, I connected with several Indo-Caribbean influencers, creators, organizers, and artists to share what it is that they love about being Indo-Caribbean.
1. Vinay Harrichan
Vinay is the founder and curator of The Cutlass, a progressive podcast and social media platform dedicated to the Indo-Caribbean community and descendants of Indian indentureship. He discusses culture, religion, politics, history, and entertainment through his posts, as well as with his podcast guests. To access his incredible and thoughtfully curated content, follow The Cutlass on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (@cutlasspodcast) and listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, AudioBoom, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and JioSaavn. Having taught himself his ancestral language, Vinay's independent research centers on documenting and revitalizing Hindustani among those living in the West Indies, in addition to the diaspora. His ongoing archival project consists of interviews with elders who still speak the language and have knowledge of old customs that are at risk of fading with time.
There is a particular kind of confusion that my Latinx friends have when they spend Christmas with my Hindu family, our maracas firmly in hand and the parang music queued up. I notice the double takes when I walk into a Jamaican restaurant and place my order like a seasoned professional, emphasis on the seasoning. South Asians are often bewildered as I alternate between singing songs from Bollywood films of the 1950s and playing Bhojpuri-language chutney, while fully engaging in conversations with them about bhangra. I am almost always asked for clarification when I carelessly allude to things like "Indo-Chinese food" or "Hosay" or "Kah-nee-val". Indo-Caribbean identity, and by extension the experience of descendants of indentured labour, is marked by proximity to a wide variety of cultures and communities, as well as a maintenance of traditions that are often not known to the assumed gatekeepers of certain practices. It is wonderfully and maddeningly complex, tragically underwritten about, but also new and full of possibilities. I hope to preserve, protect, evolve, and share it with the world.
2. Sarah DeSouza-Coelho
Sarah is a Guyanese-Canadian actress representing for the Six (Toronto, Canada). She has auditioned for and starred in various films, series and commercials for brands like MTV, Sunny D, and TD Bank, in her pursuit to bring Indo-Caribbean representation to a silver screen near you! You can keep up with Sarah on Instagram (@sarah_desouza) as well as on her Youtube Channel (@Sarah DeSouza-Coelho). Go ahead and do yourself a favor and press those follow and subscribe buttons right now!
Despite all the complexities that come with being Indo-Caribbean, it’s really a beautiful thing. It’s the blend of two worlds. The pine tarts and pholourie at family functions. The Bollywood movies playing downstairs on Saturday mornings. Oh and let’s not forget the chutney and soca music. As a kid growing up in North America, I tried to hide my culture and be more “Westernized.” But now as an adult, I have a longing to learn more and find even more joy in my identity because it’s part of what makes me who I am. I can’t wait to share it all with my future kids.
3. Djamil Ninsoo
To put it short, Djamil is a powerhouse. With over 70,000 followers on TikTok (@DouglaBwoy), Djamil creates content that educates viewers on the intersections of Indo and Afro cultures within the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica. Scrolling through his page, you’ll find short form content unpacking the influence of South Asian languages within Jamaican Patois, as well as an eight-part series detailing the history of Indo-Jamaicans. You can also follow Djamil on Instagram (@douglabwoy_) for further content.
Wah gwaan, my name is Djamiladeen Ninsoo better known as DouglaBwoy on TikTok. I’ve always said that the island of Jamaica isn’t real because where else would you find people of African and Indian descent eating poisonous fruit with fish for breakfast or dressing up in costumes and dancing throughout the year? At its heart, that’s the beauty of being Indo-Caribbean it’s a unique and beautiful history that not a lot of people know about and the teacher in me loves sharing it with folks. It’s the beat of tassa at wedding walimas and Hosay parades, it’s my Nani clapping roti and chamkaying dhal, and it’s all the colourful kurtas, lehengas, and saris on Eid. This and so much more is the beauty and joy of being Indo-Caribbean for me.
4. Nancy Jay
I first stumbled across Nancy’s content after tumbling down an Indo-Caribbean rabbit hole on TikTok (@iamnancyjay) (the app definitely knows I live near Liberty Ave). Everything about her was absolutely infectious, from her smile to her proud Caribbean moves! Scrolling through her feed will lift your spirit immensely and might even have you turning up the chunes in your bedroom to have your own dance party. Even more, Nancy is using her reach and influence to give back to her Bronx community. With the roll out of her recent project, Nancy Jay Gives Back, she handed out care packages to the homeless, working with a series of companies to provide sanitary and food products to those in need. Check out her Instagram (@iamnancyjay) and website to learn more, get involved, and donate to the Nancy Jay Gives Back project!
What I love about being Indo-Caribbean is the mixed culture. I get to enjoy the best of both worlds, West Indian and East Indian. I particularly love the music (Soca, Chutney & Bollywood) which I constantly promote on my social media platforms. Both of my parents were born in Guyana however, my ancestors are from India.