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Indo-Caribbeans celebrate 164th anniversary

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On May 5, 1838, the first group of indentured servants brought from India to Guyana disembarked from the British-owned Whitby ship in Georgetown. On Sunday, Richmond Hill’s Indo-Caribbean population commemorated the 164th anniversary of that landing with song, dance and speeches in Smokey Oval Park.

“We are celebrating 164 years of Indian migration,” said Ralph Tamesh, president of the Richmond Hill-based Indo-Caribbean Federation. “We have come a long way economically. It’s a celebration of our accomplishments once we came to the Americas.”

The migration that has resulted in large numbers of Indo-Caribbeans settling in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park must be viewed in the context of the initial migration of Indians to the Americas, organizers of Sunday’s festivities said. Following the abolishment of slavery in the Caribbean in 1834, sugar plantation owners looked toward India as a source of cheap labor.

More than 400 people showed up at Smokey Oval Park Sunday afternoon for festivities that were headlined by three talent competitions. There were male and female dancing contests and a male singing competition.

Indian Arrival Day is marked each year throughout Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname, but organizers said the Richmond Hill gathering is the largest in the New York area. This year’s festival was the 17th consecutive one in Richmond Hill.

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