and young east Indians participate in the singing of holy
bhajans. Photo: Adrian Boodan
am surprised at the level of interest last weeks column roused
on the subject of Indian aesthetics. Thank you for your calls.
Aesthetics is about beauty. What gives pleasure and what you
choose for recreation depend on your concept of beauty or
If for instance, an Indian song does not appeal to a child
of Indian descent, it means that the childs aesthetics
has been transformed. Many parents then think the child is
getting out of hand when the child prefers MTV
instead of Mastana, lamenting; How things reach so far?
But the issue is deeper and the consequences more heart wrenching
when parents realise that the child is in dissonance with
For one thing, the child becomes more and more a stranger
in the home as the family shares less and less common cultural
interests. This reduces the scope for shared interests for
Indian families during family time. The resulting casualty
is the intimacy that a parent and child should share. More
and more we are seeing two opposed cultural groups in the
Indian familythat of the parents and that of the children.
The level of cultural intimacy between children and parents
at home is, by extension, reflected in the community consciousness
and behaviour. This affects how the community feels and behaves
in the womb-like ceremonial spaces.
The first signs of a community being at risk may be seen when
its younger members begin to demonstrate awkwardness, nervousness,
reluctance and retreat from their traditional forms. The community
then becomes vulnerable to those agencies of cultural hegemonies
that are lurking and ready to move in.
The Indian community therefore must be culturally aware and
savvy enough to negotiate this challenge. But the Indian community
is hardly culturally literate.
No wonder it took so long to press for the cultural space
to stand side by side. No one can accuse Indentured
ship for being sensitive to the welfare of the jahajees; it
took long after independence for meaningful change to be initiated.
The Trinity Cross issuewhich should have been dealt
with, as matters arising in an independent nationhad
to reach court only because of how laaparwaah we are in matters
For many years, the national community has remained dumb to
these needs, and the Indian community, dumber or don-kay-damn.
This is best exemplified in the fact that there was no objection
to the Trinity Cross for decades. That has changed.
The community is becoming increasingly aware of civic issues
and is now articulate. This first step of protests has taken
long, long after even the UN sponsored, Decade of Decolonisation.
Some are now prepared to take matters to courts. The solution
however, lies much more within the community, than out there.
Carifesta for me has always been an important landmark to
measure the positioning of Indian culture in the Caribbean
space. For me it reveals how few are there to articulate Indian
Culture, how little its ethos is understood and how under
prepared Carifesta is to accommodate the nature of the Caribbean
The launch of Carifesta recently was an opportunity to sound
out this issue. That Carifesta could put the parade together
with such ease does demonstrate that the country is always
ready. (This was aptly demonstrated in Germany recently)
But the parade, as it was designed, facilitates Carnival culture
and disadvantages every thing else including some of the very
carnival arts. Further, The Big Truck syndrome is a loudmouthed
It is here that I want to suspend the parade and ask of people
who trade under Indian culture and those who live Indian culture
and those who want to secure a place for Indian culture in
the lives of their children: Are we culturally ready to contest
even at the level of the national stage?
How many Indian children, for example, can join in an Indian
community dance? In community dance, there is no separation
between audience and dancers, everybody performs in the community
dances, no one is a passive spectator.
Community dancing gives a child the self-esteem and power
to take control of his/her own body and to enter that space
with grace and confidence.
When a community losses its community space it denies the
child that familiar space for initiation into cultural norms
through which the child learns to negotiate space. The lack
of an active community culture which all children express
themselves, dis-empowers the child.
The child is therefore hardly ready to negotiating spaces
outside the community. The natural corollary is that the entire
community suffers from inhibition, fear of an assembly and
inability to represent itself.
Many people think discrimination is preventing Indian culture
from taking its rightful place in Carifesta.
However, I want to ask: Are we ready?
This is precisely why The Kendra has been increasingly working
amongst children. The Kendra has been experimenting in BaalChildrensRamdilla.
Ramdilla allows for the kind of collective cultural activity
that it can become a means to community participation and
growth of confidence to negotiate the space in which we live.
The community must therefore possess Ramdilla.