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Indian heritage to unfold in Trinidad

May 04, 2006 18:34 IST

The cultural heritage of the Indians in the Caribbean islands are set to be unfolded for public with Trinidad opening its first Indian Museum on Sunday.

Located near the famous temple in the sea at Waterloo, Trinidad, the Indian Caribbean Museum aims to preserve the material history of over one million descendants of South Asians in the Caribbean and is expected to help the people of other ethnic backgrounds gain knowledge on Indian art, culture and heritage.

The museum stands unique with its collections that include antiques like rare musical instruments, agricultural objects, cooking utensils, pieces of clothing, ancient photographs and historical books.

Some objects of historical and aesthetic value, that would find place in the museum, include a sapat (wooden slipper), jata (grinding stone), boli (gourd bowl), hassawa (grass knife) and an aluminium scoop.

The Indian immigrants came to the Caribbean to work as indentured labourers from 1838 to 1917 following the abolition of slavery. The museum is expected to serve as a link between the revered ancestors and the present generation of people of Indian origin.

The museum's large collection has been obtained through field trips by administrators of the institution. Most items have been acquired as gifts and bequests by interested individuals, families, priests, historians, scholars and collectors of the island community.

On the Museum's ground, there is a huge copper basin, which was used for boiling cane syrup in the factory up to 1930s. There is also a Dhekhi - a wooden contraption used for pounding cocoa and coffee beans as well as corn and rice grains.

It also houses an art gallery, a reference library and a computerised genealogical database. Plans are also afoot to establish a botanical garden in the space outside with some of the rare endangered plants of Indian origin like the Satputiya (angled loofah), Poi Bhaji (Indian spinach), Urdi (mung bean) and Kakri (wild cucumber).

There is a large screen in a recessed wall of the museum for the screening of historical films and documentaries. The museum is affiliated to Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) and The National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago.

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