A hurricane is a severe tropical storm with torrential rain and extremely strong winds. It originates in areas of low pressure in equatorial regions of the Atlantic or Caribbean, and then grows stronger, traveling northwest, north, or northeast.
At the center of a hurricane is the "eye" -
Hurricanes cause tremendous destruction. They demolish buildings, crops and forests. Of course, they also kill people. Fortunately, because they move at 10 to 15 miles per hour, the long periods of advance warning possible in recent times results in lower loss of life than might have occurred otherwise.
Hurricanes last for 1 to 30 days. They weaken after prolonged contact with the colder ocean waters of the middle latitudes, and rapidly decay after moving over land areas.
Hurricane is a Caribbean word. Hurakan, from which it is derived, was the name of an Arawak god.
The term hurricane is normally used only for storms occurring over the N Atlantic Ocean. The same phenomenon occurring over the W Pacific Ocean is called a typhoon.
The West Indies Federation
The West Indies Federation, also known as the Federation of the West Indies, was a federation of colonies of the United Kingdom, intended to become a single state on attaining independence from Britain.
The total population of the Federation was over 3 million people in 24 main islands and numerous minor islands, islets and cays. The largest islands were Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados.
Established on January 3, 1958, the West Indies Federation collapsed in January 1962.
CARIBBEAN BROADCASTING UNION (CBU)
The CBU, a voluntary organization composed of broadcasting organizations situated in the countries of the Caribbean and adjacent territories, was established in 1971.
Its stated objectives are to promote the interests of broadcasting among members
of the Union, particularly in the areas of: the furtherance and development of programs
relevant to the social economic and cultural well-
One of the languages spoken on the Indian subcontinent. It is the official literary language of Pakistan and one of the 15 languages recognized in the 1950 Indian constitution. Urdu has been described as the written or literary variant of version of Hindustani that is used mostly by Muslims. It is written in a modified form of the Arabic alphabet, and its vocabulary has been enriched by borrowings from Arabic and Persian. Urdu is understood by most people of Indian descent in the Caribbean (Guyana, Trinidad, Surinam etc). It is the language of the popular films and music of the Bombay film industry.
Before modern utensils became generally available to poor people in the Caribbean,
the calabash tree was very valuable. Its large and heavy gourd-
In Suriname, carving calabashes is a popular craft among women in Maroon communities The carvers produce decorated bowls and other utensils to be given as gifts or to be used at home or in rituals.
Calabash utensils do not last long. As the calabash ages, it looses moisture, becomes increasingly brittle, and eventually breaks.
The pulpy insides of the fruit were used, sometimes together with the leaves, in the preparation of folk medicine. They were boiled with sugar to make a syrup that was used to treat coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis and lung congestion.
At night, the pale yellow flowers of the calabash tree blooms and emits a pungent odor that attracts bats. The bats visit the calabash flowers to sip nectar and in the process pollinates them.
There is something unusual about the behavior of the fruit of the mangrove tree.
The fruit is a cone-
Mangroves produce from their trunks aerial roots that become embedded in the mud and form a tangled network. This network props up the tree securely and also forms a base for the deposit of silt and other material carried by the tides. Land is thus built up and is soon covered by other vegetation.
Were it not for the presence of mangrove trees on the banks of rivers in Guyana, the banks would have been washed away and the surrounding areas flooded. Mangroves also protect coral reefs and seagrass beds.
Mangroves also provide habitats for many forms of insect, plant, marine and animal
life. In Belize, mangroves support manatees, crab-
The type of mangrove that grows in an area is largely determined by how "salty" the water is. Also, some types of mangroves shut out salt from their systems while other discharge or eject salt from their systems. Water from mangroves that exclude salt is so fresh that people can drink it, even though the mangrove may be standing in very salty soil or water.
Caribbean islands intent of establishing shrimp farms or building new houses or expanding tourism may not find mangrove forests as aesthetically pleasing as coral reefs. However, researchers have found that where there are mangrove forests nearby the coral reefs have twice as many snappers. Juvenile snappers and other species of fish spend their early lives seeking food and shelter in relative safety among mangrove roots. Once they leave this nursery environment, they are more likely to be found by predators.
Mangroves have been cut down on a large scale. The bark is a rich source of tannins, and the wood has been used for wharf pilings and other purposes.
The most common types of mangrove are the Red Mangrove, White Mangrove, Black Mangrove and Buttonwood.
The Portuguese man-
The Portuguese man-
The scientific name of the man-
This is the popular name for the bark of the carob tree, Colubrina reclinata, which
grows in many parts of the Caribbean. Mauby is the name of the popular bitter-
The fruit called mammee (mamey, mammy) apple (Mammea americana) is native to the Caribbean region. When Columbus visited the islands in the region, they were already a part of the local diet. Ripe mammee apples with their thick leathery skin are often seen in the markets of Caribbean countries. A mammee apple contains several large, roughened seeds. Mammees are usually eaten raw or are stewed and eaten as a dessert. They are also used for jams and preserves. In some areas of the Caribbean, a liqueur (eau de creole) is distilled from the fragrant flowers of the mammee apple. In Guyana, there has long been a widely believed rumor that people are likely to die if they drink rum after eating mammees. Some ignore the rumor, with no fatal consequences.
BOXHAND OR SU-
The participants are people who want to save a relatively large sum of money for
some purpose such as buying furniture or household equipment, or accumulating the
It is operated as follows: A trusted person receives a fixed amount of money from each participant each pay period, usually a week. This person manages the system. All the money collected at the end of a pay period is given to one person on the list of participants. This means that if ten persons agree to contribute $100.00 a week, at some stage each person would receive a lump sum of $1000.00.
People from the Caribbean brought this practice with them to America and used it to great advantage.
This system is virtually the same everywhere, by whatever name: "hands" in Trinidad
and Tobago; "boxhand" in Guyana; "pardners" in Jamaica; su-
The name roti means different things to different people, but roti is a form of flat
wheat bread from India, widely used and enjoyed all over the Caribbean. To the Guyanese,
the term roti, used alone, means the cooked basic dough – essentially flour, baking
powder and salt, with water added. The dough is rolled, flattened, brushed with oil,
cooked on a tawah or griddle, then “clapped” before serving. There are however various
types of roti and they are called by different names according to the ways in which
they are prepared and presented. Names you will come across are sada roti, chappati,
dosti roti, paratha roti (known as buss-
Roti skin is plain roti. Dhalpurie is roti with a filling of peas or pulse, generally
yellow split peas. In aloo purie (known also as potato roti), aloo (potato) takes
the place of peas. In Trinidad, however, dhalpurie is what most people call roti.
Dosti roti comes in two layers. Dosti means friend and two rotis are cooked as close
friends. Paratha roti is clapped or hit until it becomes flaky. In Trinidad this
roti is called “buss-
Sometimes roti is described as unleavened bread. However, roti is most often leavened (cooked with a rising agent, mostly baking powder).
Chutney music is a blend of many elements. The average person from the Caribbean would readily recognize its East Indian/West Indianness. In the mix are Hindi, English, and Creole lyrics. The rhythms also result from a blend of various forms of Indian and West Indian music. Almost always lively, chutney songs are popular and are performed at special events and parties. The best chutney performers have so far developed in Trinidad and Guyana.
Guyanese talk about golden apples, Jamaicans call them june plums or even Jew plums, but the fruit is the same. It is eaten green or ripe or blended into a pleasant juice. Other names by which this fruit is known include Otaheite apple, Tahitian quince, Wi, and great hogplum.
WHY DO MANY PANAMANIANS SOUND LIKE WEST INDIANS?
Whenever this happens, it is almost always because their forebears came from the West Indies. Workers from the islands of the West Indies and from Guyana were recruited from their homelands to help build the Panama Canal, a ship canal, about 82 km (51 mi) long, which crosses the Isthmus of Panama in the Canal Zone and connects the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean. The French who began it in 1881 abandoned the project in 1889. The United States gained construction rights after Panama declared its independence in 1903, and the canal was opened to traffic on August 15, 1914. The West Indian laborer, described as generally “cheerful, obedient and orderly” provided most of the labor needed to construct the Canal, and even before then, to build the Panama Railroad during the 1850s.
AUGUST 1, is observed as Emancipation Day, mainly by people of African ancestry, in many parts of the the West Indies and in Guyana. In 1833, the British Monarch signed the Abolition of Slavery Act, which came into effect on Friday August 1, 1834. This act provided that " slavery shall be and is hereby utterly and forever abolished and declared unlawful throughout the British colonies, plantations and possessions abroad". Full Emancipation did not come into effect on August 1, 1834. Instead, workers were bound to the plantations and had to provide free labor for another four years under a system of Apprenticeship. Full emancipation therefore came into effect on August 1, 1838. Emancipation Day, sometimes called Freedom Day, is celebrated in many ways. There are soirees, libations, drumming, dancing, speeches, poetry, concerts, theatrical performances and the like to mark the occasion.
SMALLEST DRAWBRIDGE IN THE WORLD
At Ely’s Harbor on the Island of Bermuda is a tiny span known as Somerset Bridge. Just 20 feet long, it links Somerset Island with the main island. On each side is a masonry embankment connected by two wooden draws that allow clearance of eighteen inches for the mast of a sailboat. Somerset Bridge is reputed to be the smallest bridge over the Atlantic and the smallest drawbridge in the world.
INDIAN ARRIVAL DAY
Indian Arrival Day is now celebrated in North America on May 19 to mark the arrival
in the Caribbean of Indians from India. Observances take place in the Caribbean,
the United States and Canada. Indians in and from the Caribbean (sometimes called
Remembrance Day, a day for remembering men in the armed forces who died in the two
World Wars, is observed in November each year in English-
The location of these observances is generally the cenotaph (meaning "empty tomb). The first cenotaph was built in the middle of Whitehall, London, in memory of men of the armed services who died in World War I.
Memorial Day in the United States is the American version of Remembrance Day.
THE ORIGIN OF THE BARBECUE
The barbecue is generally regarded as a great American pastime, but it did not originate in the United States. The barbecue came from the Caribbean and South America, and the word came into the English language via Spanish from its Amerindian roots. The original meaning of barbecue is that of a raised framework of wood, and later of metal, used for either sleeping upon or for curing meats. The Arawak Amerindians of the Caribbean and Guiana were the first known to use this technique of cooking and smoking food over fresh wood. Spanish pirates adopted the practice.
The Amerindians called it a babracot and the Haitians a barbacoa. The Spanish heard
and used the Haitian word and it came into English from the Spanish. Today the word
barbecue is used for the barbecue grill, or the food cooked on the grill (usually
meat), or the social gathering (usually open-
This is the day following Christmas Day, that is December 26th. It is a public holiday
in all the English-
RAKHI OR RAKSHA BANDHAN
This is an observance on a specially designated day of the year on which a Hindu girl would tie a piece of thread around the wrist of her brother right hand as a sign of affection and as a reminder of her brother's duty to protect her. The thread or sacred cord is called a raksha sutra.
The favorite home-
Mulattoes in the Caribbean at one stage did so well for themselves, partly because white fathers were bequeathing much wealth to them, that laws were passed restricting their activities and opportunities. Part of the reason was that white women found that they were not as desirable to white men as mulatto women who had not only become affluent but were grateful for the devotion of white men.
In the eighteenth century therefore, mulatto women and men found that they could not sit at the same tables as whites, were not allowed to be seated in the same sections in theaters and churches, and could not be buried in the same cemeteries even with their white fathers. In 1762, a law was passed in Jamaica limiting the value of the inheritance which a mulatto could receive. Mulattoes were also sometimes barred from the legal and other professions, from wearing certain clothing and jewelry, and from owning more than a certain amount of property or a certain number of slaves.
See also Color Classification
ASSOCIATED STATES OF THE WEST INDIES
In 1967, Antigua, St Kitts-
The Antilles is the group of islands comprising all of the West Indies except the Bahamas. The Greater Antilles include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica and Puerto Rico. The other islands of the West Indies comprise the Lesser Antilles.
A colored (often red) flag flying atop a bamboo pole generally means that an East Indian who is a Hindu lives in the house nearby and that the household held a jhandi, which is a ceremony of thanksgiving. Such ceremonies are held following some favorable development affecting a member of the family. Lord Rama is worshipped and Hanuman, who rescued Rama's wife, Sita, from captivity by Rawan is honored by the flag. These ceremonies are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Lignum vitae (Guaiacum officinale), which is indigenous to the Caribbean and South America (including Guyana), is one of the hardest and most famous woods in the world. One of the ironwoods, it is so dense, it does not float in water. The name lignum vitae, meaning "wood of life," reflects the reputed medicinal properties of the heavy, resinous wood.
The wood and its resin globs were sought after for treatments and cures for gout, syphilis and rheumatism and several other ailments. Today the resin is still used for expectorants and as a dye in medical procedures to detect the presence of occult (hidden) blood. The raw resin, called gum guaiac, is responsible for the pleasant aroma as it contains vanillin (artificial vanilla).
The combination of density and high resin content of the wood is responsible for
its extreme resistance to friction and abrasion and its remarkable property of self-
The flower of the lignum vitae is the National Flower of Jamaica
The cannabis plant, now known everywhere including the Caribbean and notably among Rastafarians, is native to Central Asia. The plant's natural homeland is most likely in the regions north of Afghanistan and the Altai mountains of southern Siberia. The name ganja came from India where it has been used for centuries. It is certainly through India that cannabis has become popular in the world at large. It is also known there as bhang. Various psychoactive preparations containing cannabis were sacred to the gods, particularly Shiva and Indra. Shiva was also known as 'Lord of Bhang.'
WOMEN IN COLONIAL TIMES
The Caribbean suffered from a chronic shortage of women. Not many female slaves were bought and the birth rate among them was generally low. Women were therefore scarce in the slave population. Not enough white women came to the Caribbean and so there was a shortage of women among the whites also. The 1770 census of Grenada, for example, reported a population that was 75 per cent male.
When the French wanted to establish a colony on Hispaniola, they sent women for the French raiders who were preying upon the cattle of the Spaniards on the island. The presence of the women resulted in a more settled existence for the men and a colony for France. When the British won Jamaica from the Spaniards, Oliver Cromwell had Irish women rounded up and sent to Jamaica.
White females were never enough however. Because of this and other reasons, white men sought mates, forcibly or otherwise, among the already few women there were among the slaves.
Diwali is celebrated by East Indians who are Hindus wherever they live in the Caribbean.
Diwali, a national holiday in Guyana, is the Hindu festival of lights. The Hindu
faithful would place numerous diyas, lighted earthen-
The mongoose became a Caribbean resident when it was introduced from India by sugarcane farmers to eradicate the destructive cane rat. The experiment did not succeed, however, as the rats climbed into the trees and remained safe from the mongoose.
Now faced with starvation, the mongoose soon gained notoriety as it turned to poultry,
The mongoose does much better with snakes, even poisonous ones. In fact, it has long been called serpent devourer. The mongoose is not immune to snake bites, and does not, as some people believe, eat a herbal antidote to snake bite. Its success lay in its agility and its ability to judge accurately the next move of a snake.
Its fight with the snake begins when the mongoose provokes the snake to attack. When it strikes the mongoose deftly moves out of range. After a repeat strike, the mongoose is generally ready to act. It springs and clamps its jaws on the reptile's head before it can recoil and the battle is over. The mongoose would first eat the head of the snake and the poison glands, which are harmless in the mongoose's stomach.
Anancy stories, told all over the Caribbean, represent one of the strongest verbal survivors of Africa in the region. The character Anancy originated from Africa's west coast. He appears human at times, but more often as a clever and witty spider.
Anancy is an Ashanti spider trickster. The stories are those of the clever and the stupid, the predator and the victim.
Anancy tales were generally told as bedtime stories for children by parents who often made them up, often to reflect whatever social concerns were uppermost in their lives. Anancy was often the clever antagonist of the plantation master. He would often save the slaves from dangerous situations by frustrating the master's violent intentions.
Ms. Louise Bennett, known fondly as "Miss Lou," one of the leading authorities on Anancy stories in her native Jamaica and the Caribbean has authored several books on the subject.
Tulsi is an extremely sacred plant and is worshiped by many Hindus. Almost temple
dedicated to Vishnu temple has a tulsi garden. When food is offered to Lord Vishnu
or Krishna, tulsi leaves are put on each preparation offered. A Hindu in the Caribbean,
as everywhere else in the world, is likely to keep a Tulsi tree in front of his house
towards the south-
The Jolly Roger was the flag flown by pirates in the Caribbean, starting around 1700. It was also called Old Roger or Skull and Crossbones. The flag was designed to create a sense of terror in the hearts of the crew of a ship under attack.
The images on the Jolly Roger had specific meanings. The skull meant death; a skeleton (sometimes with horns) meant death by torment; the bleeding heart meant slow and painful death; a dart or spear meant violent and quick death; a raised fist or a hand clutching a dagger indicated readiness to kill; the hourglass said time was running out.
One of these flags, flown by the notorious Black Bart, showed the figure of a man, sword in hand, standing with a skull under each foot, and the letters ABH (abbreviation for A Barbadian's Head) and AMH (abbreviation for A Martinican's Head) next to each skull. It indicated that he was determined to make someone significant from those two islands pay for their intention to stop his activities.
Eventually he captured the Governor of Martinique and hung him from his yardarm. It is not known whether he got his Barbadian.
Obeah is a system of folk beliefs originating in Africa. It has been described as black magic and in other unfavorable terms, though some defend it as a bona fide religion. It features the use of herbs, duppies and religious practices and is sought out by persons who believe that obeah practitioners can tell them the future or give them control over other persons or circumstances.
Obeah practitioners can be either men or women. They may employ a bag of charms, which could contain rusty nails, feathers, broken glass, or pieces of clay.
Obeahmen are supposed to help one succeed in getting what one wants, including gaining
control over others through the use of potions. Well-
Obeah's protagonists say that the practice has a benign, spiritual side that is not given the attention it deserves.
Obeah is practiced in many Caribbean territories.
Hindus are generally married in their homes by a Pandit (priest). The marriage follows an engagement ceremony called a "Tilak." Ceremonies are performed at the homes of both the bride and the groom during the week before the wedding. The wedding itself is generally held at the home of the bride's parents and is the culmination of weeks or even months of preparation on both sides. The Pandit presides over the ceremony under a tent called a "maro" which is set up to accomodate everyone, included invited guests.
The bridegroom and his party, known as the "bariat," customarily arrives at dusk and are met by the bride's father and party. A drum beating ceremony begins and is followed by a formal ceremony. In the morning, after the parents and others give presents to the bridegroom, there is another ceremony following which the bridge and groom depart for their new home.
Next morning the bridegroom would be given presents by the parents, family and friends, after which another ceremony will be held before the bride and groom leave for their own home.
Many people from the Caribbean are surprised to learn that the now-
It's the same tree known as the pain killer tree in Guyana, and as monkey dumpling in Barbados. It has other names in other parts of the Caribbean. It is also known as Indian Mulberry. Its scientific name however is Morinda Citrifolia and it is sometimes referred to simply as Morinda.
In the Caribbean, it is used externally to treat bruises, sprains, more serious bodily injuries, even fever. Hence the name pain killer. The leaves are also tied to the head as a relief for headaches and the common cold.
The Noni that is popularly advertised comes from fruit grown in Tahiti, or even Hawaii, where the tree is said to grow plentifully in rich, natural soil.
The pain killer tree is a green shrub or small tree which grows to a height of 10 feet or more. It has large oval dark green shiny leaves. The flower heads are round consisting of many tiny white flowers. The fruit, which emerges from a small white flower, is green at first then turns yellow.
This plant is widely known and used in the tropics. In Southeast Asia, where it is known as Nhau, it is used to treat sore throats and mouth and gum diseases. Malaysians call it Mengkudu, and use it internally to treat diabetes, coughs, urinary disorders, painful menstruation and hemorrhages. Philippinos use it to cleanse the intestines and remove parasites from the body. It is Nonu in Samoa and the Och Plant in India.
In Barbados, where the fruit is called monkey dumpling because it is a favorite of monkeys, it is also used as bait for crabs, which seem attracted to it. It has a distinctive odor which humans find less than pleasant.
Now that Noni is believed to be effective in the treatment of many disorders, the people of the Caribbean are trying their hand at making their own preparations, mixing its naturally unpleasant juice with pleasant fruit juices and drinking it.
Aloe vera (Scientific name: Aloe barbadensis) was well known in the Caribbean long before it became popular in North America in the nineteen nineties. The plant is a
native of the African Congo. In the Caribbean, aloe plants were found in the wild or grown as house or yard plants. Aloe was used in the kitchen for burns or cuts and bruises and outside of it for various types of injury to the skin..
Today it is widely recognized as an antiseptic, cleanser and moisturizer. It is also taken internally for a number of conditions.
In Barbados, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands it is also known as "sinkle bible."
CARNIVAL ON THE EASTERN PARKWAY IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
On the first Monday in September, Labor Day in the United States, the mammoth West
Largely patterned after Carnival in Trinidad, the parade puts on display color, glitter, pulsating steelband music, revelry and food.
The history of this Brooklyn event takes us back to the time of Jessie Waddell, who
for many years promoted masquerade dances at the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem.
In 1947, she obtained permission from City Hall to organize an outdoor parade along
Lenox Avenue from 110th to 140th Streets. Participation kept growing until, in 1964,
In 1966, Rufus Goring, a masquerader, organized a small parade in Brooklyn. It was
held in the area of the Grand Army Plaza. It was after Goring's death that Carlos
Lezama took over, incorporating the governing body as the West Indian-
The popularity of the event has been growing from year to year. Millions now flock to the Parkway on Labor Day.
In Lezama's published message for Carnival 2000, he states: "WIADCA offers the only
opportunity in the U.S. to witness "ole mas" (caricatures) competition, Caribbean
Brass Festival (dance marathon / jam session), a world-
See also Caribana
The festival of Phagwah or Holi is celebrated in parts of the Caribbean with considerable
Hindu communities, notably Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. The festival marks the
beginning of spring in India. It begins after the burning of holika, symbolizing
the triumph of good over evil. Next, chowtal groups in various locations sing chowtals
and taans at various homes. Some communities put on variety concerts and prayer services.
The real fun starts, however, when Hindus, especially the youth, begin throwing water,
or preferably water colored red with abeer, or the abeer powder, or regular talcum
powder, on each other. This is called "playing Phagwah." Hindus dressed in their
clean white clothing are drenched with colored or plain water, red or white powder.
It is also a time for visiting others' homes and partaking of a variety of popular
foods. Hindus also share sweetmeats (meethai or mitai) with others. More likely than
not, the fun and laughter of Phagwah is shared by most of the community, Hindu and
The Seventh Carifesta (Caribbean Festival of the Creative Arts) was held in St Kitts
and Nevis in August 2000. The 10-
The Festival was originally conceived as a regional festival celebrating the creativity of artists from member countries of CARICOM, the wider Caribbean and the Diaspora.
It provides a forum for everyone, locals and visitors alike, to sample the artistic skills and energies born out of the diverse experiences of all Caribbean peoples.
PRODUCTS WEST INDIANS WHO LIVE IN AMERICA REMEMBER
Andrews Liver Salts
Eno's Fruit Salts
Sanatogen Tonic Wine
Zube's Cough Mixture
As we all know, white plantation masters consorted with black slaves and produced children. The offspring would then produce their own children and grandchildren. Along the way there would be varying degrees of whiteness and blackness.
The naming scheme used in this scenario was as follows:
mulatto or sambo -
Here is another way of illustrating the matter:
Parents ..................................... Child
Black & White ......................... Mulatto
Mulatto & White..................... Quadroon
The term colored was used for those with light complexions and with known black ancestry,
See also Restrictions on Mulattoes