Saturday, May 20, 2006


During discussions among members of our forum , we opined that there were Punjabi sikhs among Jahajees. The best oral evidence appeared from Varuna.I have included his verabtim in the previous post. So hypothetically " There were sikhs but gradually they were absorbed into mainstream hindu community of indentured labourers in Guyana and Trinidad while in smaller communities they were converted to christianity and gradually absorbed into the community of african descent".We need evidence to prove that it happened so.In the process of gathering these evidences, I found this interesting information in the article dedicated to Dr Gideon Cordice an outstanding Vincentian of East Indian heritage.
This is how the article reports about his ancestors.
" Doc’s paternal grandfather John Balusingh came to St. Vincent from the North Punjab area of India during indentureship. Balusingh lived at Lot 14, a village just beyond the Rabacca River on the Windward Side of the island. Dr. Cordice recalls that his grandfather Balusingh was well-off, and his wife wore jewelry “from her armpits to her fingertips.” Balusingh was able to accumulate much of his wealth because of his close relationship with the army colonel stationed in that area".
Today there are a lot of singhs among jahajee descendents as they were mainly from Bihar and UP. It was very common to bear the name SINGH by these hindus. However in this case, having come from Punjab directs us to believe that Mr Balusingh was likely to be a sikh.
Then someone might ask the question as to how one got anglican names.Like what they did to african slaves, Britishers assigned anglicised names to their indentured labourers before sending to estates. Later, their off springs were given anglicised names by the authorities.A special tribute should be made to Guyanese, trinidadians and Surinamese who aginst all mountimg pressure to date name their off springs in Sanskritsed names.
The difficulties faced by the indian community in maintaining their cultural heritage is described in the article
"One of Balusingh’s sons was named John Fordyce, another Bhudu Richards. Fordyce and Richards were brothers by both mother and father, but each carried the surname of his Godfather, as was the practice. This was so because of the difficulty experienced locally in spelling the Indian names. Over the years, the name Fordyce got corrupted and became Cordice. John Fordyce (Cordice) was Doc’s father."
Thus, it is evident with the passage of the time , sikhs and Indians of all faiths lost their religous and cultural identity in islands where they( all indian labourers) were in minority.
When one reads the story about this great St Vincentian, It demonstrates the ample evidence of his possible sikh spirit reflected in love and compassion for humanity.The success of Mr Balusingh in accumulating wealth is also peculiar to many sikhs( and of course indians in general) who worked hard in new worlds they went in search of better future.
I am quite sure in our journey for lost trails of sikhs in carribean we will find more and more such incredible stories of individuals who nearly a centuary ago followed the doctrine of Guru Nanak strengthened by warrior saint Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
( picture from search light newspaper)
Read about Dr Cordice in SEARCH LIGHT NEWSPAPER


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