Indo-Guyanese

Indo-Guyanese

Between 1838 and 1917, almost 240,000 East Indian indentured workers were brought to British Guiana. The indentured workers had the right to be repatriated at the end of their contracts, but as of 1890, most of the East Indian indentured workers had chosen to settle in British Guiana.

Although the great majority of the East Indian immigrants workers were from northern India, there were variations among them in caste and religion. Some 30 percent of the East Indians were from agricultural castes and 31 percent were from low castes or were untouchables. Brahmans, the highest caste, constituted 14 percent of the East Indian immigrants. About 16 percent were Muslims. The only acknowledgment the colonial government and the plantation managers gave to caste differences was their distrust of the Brahmans as potential leaders. East Indian workers were housed together and placed in work gangs without consideration of caste. Unlike the African slaves, the East Indian indentured workers were permitted to retain may of their cultural traditions. But the process of assimilation has made the culture of the modern Indo-Guyanese more homogeneous than that of their caste-conscious immigrant ancestors.

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