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Monday, May 08, 2006 

Posted on 08 May 2006 # IANS

Museum to preserve history of Indian diaspora in Caribbean opened Port of Spain

(Trinidad and Tobago): An Indian Caribbean Museum, aimed at preserving the history of descendants of the immigrants from India to the Caribbean, has been inaugurated by Winston Dookeran, political leader of the United National Congress party, at Carapichaima in west central Trinidad.

Speaking at the function Sunday, Dookeran said that the museum signalled a new phase in the 160 years of history of persons of Indian origin (PIOs) in Trinidad. "It celebrated the triumph of survival over the harshness of the plantation system and a common struggle for the search of identity," a report in the Trinidad and Tobago Express newspaper quoted Dookeran as saying.

The immigrants from India had come as indentured labour between 1838 and 1917 to work in sugar plantations in the region. Their descendants, numbering around a million, are today spread all across the Caribbean nations. Trinidad and Tobago itself is home to over half a million of these people.

Apart from preserving the history of PIOs, the museum will also help people from other ethnic backgrounds get knowledge of Indian culture and arts.

Among the objects that adorn this unique museum are a 'sapat' (a wooden slipper worn mostly by the holy men), a 'dekhi' (or dehusker used to mill rice from paddy and dehusk coffee beans) and a 'hassawa' (a grass knife used to cut bundles of grass to feed animals).

There are also a 'jata' (grinding stone), a 'boli' (gourd bowl) and an aluminium scoop.

The Lion House of Chaguanas, which was immortalised in V.S. Naipaul's novel "A House for Mr. Biswas" and which was restored by Naipaul's cousin Suren Capildeo, has also been handed over to the museum.

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