Holidays and Festivals – Indian Arrival Day
Indian Arrival Day, celebrated on 30th May, commemorates the arrival of the first Indian Indentured labourers from India to Trinidad, in May 1845, on the ship Fatel Razack. While this momentous event has been celebrated among the East Indian community in Trinidad and Tobago for many years, it was not until 1994 that it was made an official public holiday. Previously called Arrival Day, in 1995 it was re-named Indian Arrival Day.
Indian Immigration to Trinidad spanned the period 1845-1917. During this period over 140,000 Indians were transported to the island. The journey was long and arduous and living conditions were deplorable. The Indians were subjected to abuse, poor food, and dangerous weather conditions. Nevertheless these adverse conditions enabled them to form a bond which overcame their differences of language, caste and regionalism.
After disembarking at Nelson Island, the arrivals were fed and rested for a couple weeks and then sent to the various estates that had requested them previously.
When the Fatel Razack sailed into the Gulf of Paria in 1845, it brought not only a new labour force, but also a new culture, because the Indians brought with them their food, dress, language, music, dance, religion and customs.