A traditional unrefined sweetener long made in Indian villages by boiling down fresh sugar cane juice, jaggery is an old concoction that carries a rich caramel flavour and a beautiful golden to dark brown colour. Without separation of the molasses and crystals, the opaque mineral-rich liquid is skimmed and slowly stirred by hand in large iron pots or “karahis” and finally reduced into a delicious raw sugar crafted into cones, circles and cubes. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for respiratory infections and to aid digestion, the buttery-scented substance is added to milk-based desserts, daily foods, and special candies like tamarind balls and halwas. It is given, too, as a sacred symbolic sweet offering to endear Gods and guests.
Called “gur” or “gurh” in Hindi, Bhojpuri and other Indian languages, it is less common as a prized sugar made from palm sap. “Gur” was also the fitting first name of Immigrant Number 233, a member of the hardworking agricultural caste, Kurmee, who migrated to British Guiana (B.G) from “Dhowgong” likely a settlement in Assam, then part of the sprawling Bengal Presidency centred at Calcutta, the bustling hub of British India.
Translated into English and recorded variously as “Goor” and “Gur” his auspicious names were inadvertently joined into Goordeeall, a misspelling of the surname “Dayal” from Sanskrit “dayalu” meaning “kind” and “compassionate.” At 27, likely a poor tenant farmer, he was one of the few men aboard the “Whitby” who made the long crossing to B.G. accompanied by family. Goor travelled with his wife Lukeeah, Immigrant Number 257 and their only child, a four-year-old son listed in the Parliamentary Papers as Jooa or Toohea, another name approximation by the British…..