By: Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.
An Indo-Trini funeral captures the essence of the Indo-Caribbean diaspora.
The diaspora began in India. Poverty rates were high and Indians were lured by opportunities to make money harvesting sugar for British colonies. Many traveled to the Caribbean and Trinidad to work as indentured servants. The harsh and inhumane conditions led to the end of indentured servitude. However, the shortfalls of colonialism then created mass waves of emigration to the United States and United Kingdom in search of better opportunities.
A Hindu Indo-Trini funeral in 2021 highlights each country in the diaspora. First, the religious aspect is grounded in tradition that has persevered from India to Trinidad. Hinduism began thousands of years ago and is still widely practiced today. It is even credited as being the world’s oldest religion.
Second, the funeral takes place in Trinidad-- a place where hundreds of thousands of Indians created a new home. The Indo-Trinis (and Afro-Trinis) made Trinidad a unique mix of the past and present. And one key example of that is the Temple in the Sea and nearby cremation site. Siewdass Sadhu dedicated 25 years to building the octagonal temple offshore with his own hands. He manually placed the bricks, cement, and sand to create the foundation during low-tide. (My cousins’ joy when they tell me that their uncle built the temple is contagious).
And third, Americans and those outside of Trinidad, could only watch a 2020/2021 Indo-Trini funeral via Zoom. Trinidad’s borders closed in 2020 and so mourners could only offer support by watching the ceremony online. They watched the masked-mourners offer their final goodbyes at the cremation site just outside of the Temple in the Sea. Trini-Americans, no longer in Trinidad but still tied to their Trini roots and deeper Indian roots.
This post is dedicated to my sweet Trini aunty who passed suddenly. May you always be with us and remind us that we came from strong women who survived the journey from India at sea, the hard labour harvesting sugar in Trinidad, and the obstacles to provide a better life for your children.
To all here you’re known as Dodo
With you from childhood they grew
Rest assured you’re always on our mind
For truly and definitely you are one of a kind
Always mellow and soft spoken
To all you’re definitely a life’s token
We will always remember you
From even the smallest thing you do
You took time to remember each baby born in a very special way
Thanks again we all say
Jewelry a band a bangle made of gold
And that alone reflects in countless words of your precious soul
Whatever we ask You always take the time and effort to send
For those our gratitude we extend
When in Miami with gladness you willingly make
you dedicated time you take
Dodo you are and always be Special
Shining upon all Just like star heavenly and celestial
You’re gone and now we sadly mourn
In our hearts and mind you still adorn
Taken suddenly From Vijay, Donna Vashti Rudy Shoba Sharda and Kishore
Forever you will always adore
A mom , a mother in law a wife a grandmother a cousin the best
One truly blessed
You brought us joy you brought us cheers
Now you bring us lots of tears
-By Reynold Goolsarran
Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trial-winning business and trademark attorney. She primarily helps new and small businesses with trademarks, formation, and name clearance searches. She writes articles on the importance of trademarks, trademark law updates, and also West Indian history (with an emphasis on India, Trinidad, Guyana, and the United States).
MDGR Law, P.A.
PO Box 101794 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310-1794