Port-of-Spain:A Bhojpuri cultural troupe is currently touring the West Indies to celebrate the 163rd anniversary of arrival of the first Indian settlers in the Caribbean.
Led by Majula Diwakar, who specialises in several genres of Bhojpuri folk songs like Kaharwa, Mela, Chaiti, Jhumar, Lachari and Purvi, the troupe has been performing to packed audiences at the India Trade Fair-2008 that began here on May 22 and will conclude June 1, as also at schools and other venues. "We are elated with the responses we have received from the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society in Trinidad and Tobago," said Gopal Arora, co-ordinator of the India-based Society for Global Welfare that has organised the fair in association with Trinidad's International Business Promotions.
The troupe has been in the West Indies for almost three weeks and has performed at Guyana's Indian Arrival Day on May 5 and in Jamaica. It will head for Suriname June 2 en route to India. "This troupe has been sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, from where, between 1845 and 1917, in excess of 145,000 indentured labourers came here to work on the sugar and other agricultural plantations," said S S Rawat of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
ICCR, in collaboration with the Indian High Commission and the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Co-operation here has organised the troupe's visit.
"Bhojpuri language, folk songs and dances are very popular in countries that are home to the Indian Diaspora. The performances by the troupe will afford the Indian Diaspora here an opportunity to further appreciate indigenous Indian culture, art and civilisation," Rawat said.
According to Arora, the trade fair highlights the "creative and artistic handiworks of the Indian people. All the items on sale are of the highest quality and matched to the taste of consumers here."
"We host this fair only at the Indian Arrival Day celebrations. This tells the public that we are not here for a quick buck but are in the business of satisfying our customers," he added.
There are 50 Indian booths and about 25 local booths with something for everyone.
"Last year, more than 50,000 people of all social, cultural and ethnic extractions shopped at the fair and the figures so far indicate it will be surpassed this year," Arora said.
"We have also brought custom-made items in very limited quantities - only one each of a particular design - for brides and bride grooms," he added.