Indo-Caribbean music

Indo-Caribbean Music

Indo-Caribbean music

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Indo-Caribbean music comprises the music culture of the descendants--now numbering over a million--of indentured immigrants who came from India between 1845 and 1917 to various parts of the Caribbean, primarily Trinidad, Guyana, and Suriname.

Most of the indentured workers were peasants from the Bhojpuri-speaking region of North India.  Accordingly, Bhojpuri-derived folk music constituted the single largest category of Indo-Caribbean traditional music, comprehending a wide variety of genre types.  Prominent among women’s music have been wedding songs, including ribald songs and dances associated with all-female matkor (matticore) celebrations.  Women also traditionally sang childbirth songs (“”), work songs like jatsar, and other miscellaneous Bhojpuri songs.  In English-speaking Trinidad and Guyana, where Bhojpuri Hindi has largely died out, these songs are no longer flourishing as amateur collective folksongs, though it remains common for singers—perhaps hired semi-professionals—to be engaged to sing them at Hindu weddings, perhaps with the aid of notebooks with the words written in roman script. In Suriname, where Bhojpuri is still widely spoken, these traditions remain more vital.


A variety of other songs derived from Bhojpuri tradition were more associated with male performers.  These included renditions of the narrative heroic ballad Alhâ, songs associated with folk theater like “Harichand dance,” and a shorter narrative song-type called birha.  Birha......

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