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The East Indian way of life

Published: 
Saturday, May 12, 2018

In the famous comedy “Wedding Crashers,” two divorce mediators (played by actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) are usually in the habit of ‘crashing’ weddings. They claim to belong to some ‘pumpkin vine’ relative of either the bride or the groom’s family as they invite themselves to weddings.

In “The Week Of,” the movie is about two fathers (played by actors Adam Sandler and Chris Rock) with completely opposite personalities coming together to celebrate the wedding of their children.

In the movie, two men casually walking by the bride’s home are literally hauled into the visiting groom’s entourage as they are mistakenly believed to be the groom’s family members. These movies are absolutely non-stop laughter films.

In our local culture, we have many tell-tales where persons driving along the countryside frequently invite themselves into village weddings, claiming to be from ‘the boy side’ or the ‘girl side’.

This occurrence has become part of the typical East Indian marriage ceremony and it is hardly objected to by members of the East Indian community once the hospitality of the host is not taken advantage as was done in “Wedding Crashers.”

This is largely because the East Indians who came aboard the SS Fatel Razack across the ‘kala pani’ on May 30, 1845, brought with them ‘age-old’ beliefs and traditions which continue to be upheld till today.

One of those traditions is that we must treat our guests as if they are personifications of God.

Another tradition is that we never disrespect food, as we believe that Goddess Lakshmi resides in food. In fact, Hindus generally bow to their food (an act of thanking God) before eating same.

This is all part of the East Indian tradition which has become entrenched in their way of life, where sharing food with the larger community is encouraged.

East Indian weddings, prayers in temples and puja at homes are generally concluded with sharing of food to the wider community. Large pots and utensils (daabla, jharna etc.) comprise each kitchen as East Indians routinely prepare large quantities of food to share.

Tradition continues to mandate that food is dispensed as much as possible on ‘sohaari leaves’, as all Hindus aspire to be environmentally friendly. To be a Hindu is to be environmentally conscious. The ingredients used as offerings are all bio-degradable. As part of the environment, Hindus revere all plants and trees, equating them with Gods.

Our ancestors brought certain trees and plants to Trinidad when they arrived abroad the SS Fatel Razack and other sailing ships. The peepal tree and tulsi plant are examples. These are considered to be embodiments of God and serve as a residence for various forms of divinity.

In terms of the ecosystem, all animals are also revered and many instances worshipped as they are ‘divine vaahans’ or vehicles for the Hindu Gods. Feeding of animals is considered a form of ‘yagna’ or religious sacrifice, while the cow is worshipped.

Perhaps, the noblest aspect of the East Indian way of life is the inherent compassion and desire to help fellow men.

Under our Hindu scriptures, human-life is considered the greatest gift of God. Human-life forms the core of deep Hindu ‘Dwait’ and ‘Adwait’ Vedantic philosophy.

Man’s life is verily a sacrifice and the greatest sacrifice that a person can give to God is the offering of his/her human form. During one’s life, giving of oneself in service to mankind is equivalent to serving God.

Service to mankind is service to God is a living dogma of Hinduism.

Our ancestors brought many scriptures and Hindu affiliated texts which were preserved and taught across the country. Amongst scriptures, the Holy Ramayan was and continues to be the main guide to the Hindu East Indian way of life.

In the Ramayan, the contents of which have been largely scientifically proven, Lord Ram, on being exiled from his father’s kingdom (Ayodhya), took soil from his home and he worshipped the soil wherever he went. The soil of Ayodhya, his motherland, was worshipped as his own mother.

Following Lord Ram’s example, every Hindu is mandated to worship the earth and particularly his motherland.

It has become the East Indian way of life in Trinidad for persons to dedicate themselves to their country just as they value and treasure their own mothers. In this way, they are rigidly patriotic to Trinidad, the motherland.

Much more will be discussed about the East Indian way of life during this Indian Arrival month.

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