A huge crowd showed up in Richmond Hill, the heart of the settlement of Indo-Guyanese, for the Indian Arrival celebrations held at Smokey Park last Sunday with a cultural variety concert and a modelling pageant. The event was previously scheduled for May 19 but was rained out and rescheduled for June 9. The idea of observing Indian Arrival Day in New York was initiated by a group comprising several prominent Guyanese including the late Gora Singh, Baytoram Ramharack, Ravi Dev, Vishnu Bisram, Iserdat Ramdehol, Rudra Nauth, etc, in 1985 under the umbrella of the Indo-Caribbean Federation with an annual observance. It is held in Richmond Hill because of the large number of Guyanese who are settled in the area.
This year’s celebration commemorated the 175th anniversary of the migration of Indians from India as indentured labourers to the Caribbean. The Indo-Caribbean Federation, currently led by Ralph Tamesh, formerly of the East Coast, planned and organized the commemoration of the historic occasion. The federation staged a cultural variety concert featuring dozens of talented artistes from the community, comedy, a live band, a singing and dancing talent competition, an Indian fashion show, and a skit on the Indian indentured experience on the plantation. Artistes and the band performed for free. There were several sponsors of prizes and some individuals and businesses underwrote the costs associated with staging the concert and paying for the park’s permit. Several restaurants (Sybils, Kaieteur, Cabana, Bamboo Gardens, Hibiscus, and Nest) also donated food and some businesses supplied beverages.
It was an entertainment packed and fun-filled concert; many in the crowd danced and clapped to the beat of music. Several non-Indians were among the huge crowd that was drawn to the glamorous event that lasted over five hours. Many in the audience were dressed in traditional attire (Punjabi suits, shalwar kameez, kurtha sets, Nehru suits).
The mainstream and Caribbean ethnic weekly press was out in full force to cover the event for newspapers and television. The organizers of the concert also put out a special publication, the Indo-Caribbean Review, highlighting the achievements of the community and the contributions of Indo-Caribbean people to the Caribbean and New York.
President of the Federation Ralph Tamesh said his organization’s primary aim is to propagate Indo-Caribbean culture in America and promote and strengthen ethnic identity, as well as assist people in emergency situations. The organizations also helps to build relations among the diverse peoples in New York and promote peace, understanding, and goodwill among them.
Ralph praised the hard work of his executive board and volunteers in making the celebration a magnificent success. He applauded the artistes for their participation, and thanked the sponsors among whom were hospitals, insurance agencies, Laparkan, etc, noting that without their generous assistance, the ICF would not have been able to pull off the event.
The organization gave out a number of awards to individuals who have rendered invaluable voluntary service to the community.