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Caribbean Hinduism in Transnational Perspective: The Hindutva Impact
Unformatted Document Text:  resist domination is akin to the resistive-liberation strategy that Indo-Trinidadian Hindus have been using to counter the larger, Afro-Creole hegemonically-centered cultural space that has come to define the cultural mainstream of Trinidad and Tobago. At the level of politicized religiosity, the politically conscious, activist-type of Hindu knows that her/his dharma dictates this type of assertive religiosity. For example, the Hindu Seva Sangh (HSS) with its shakha system (based on the youth camp with a militaristic system of training) and derived from the RSS with its emphasis on moral integrity, self-pride and discipline and the fostering of a strong religious and ethnic self-awareness, is a good case in point. Some well-known Hindu figures/activists such as Ravi Ji have been directly exposed to the Hindutva ideology through extensive training at one of its main organizational wings, i.e. the RSS. Ravi Ji is known as a ‘cultural’ activist in the Hindu resurgence movement in Trinidad, and spent thirteen years in India under the baton of the RSS. He currently is a major player in the Hindu Pracher Kendra (HPK). The HPK main focus was to act as a missionary school, but it has gained a lot of public recognition through its activities such as the Phagwa (festival of colors) celebration that have included several innovative features to its ethnic repertoire such as the Pichkaree (an Indo-Trinidadian Hindu art form whose lyrics speak to the cultural and political disenfranchisement of the Hindu masses in the Caribbean) song competition. The Pichkaree musical art form, therefore, must be understood as an ethno-cultural, ethno-religious, and ethno-political resistance strategy that seeks to interrogate and confront the hegemonic forces that have historically rendered the Indo-Trinidadian Hindu experience as ‘marginal’ to the larger Afro-Creole Caribbean cultural mainstream. What encourages this type of thinking is the historically-specific racialized representation of ‘Hindu and ‘Indian’ as Othered in Caribbean societies. Realizing that the Hindu situation in Trinidad was exhibiting a more ‘passive’, ritualized form of religious expression that was being disseminated by 20

Authors: Singh, Simboonath.
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resist domination is akin to the resistive-liberation strategy that Indo-Trinidadian Hindus have
been using to counter the larger, Afro-Creole hegemonically-centered cultural space that has
come to define the cultural mainstream of Trinidad and Tobago. At the level of politicized
religiosity, the politically conscious, activist-type of Hindu knows that her/his dharma dictates
this type of assertive religiosity. For example, the Hindu Seva Sangh (HSS) with its shakha
system (based on the youth camp with a militaristic system of training) and derived from the
RSS with its emphasis on moral integrity, self-pride and discipline and the fostering of a strong
religious and ethnic self-awareness, is a good case in point.
Some well-known Hindu figures/activists such as Ravi Ji have been directly exposed to
the Hindutva ideology through extensive training at one of its main organizational wings, i.e. the
RSS. Ravi Ji is known as a ‘cultural’ activist in the Hindu resurgence movement in Trinidad, and
spent thirteen years in India under the baton of the RSS. He currently is a major player in the
Hindu Pracher Kendra (HPK). The HPK main focus was to act as a missionary school, but it has
gained a lot of public recognition through its activities such as the Phagwa (festival of colors)
celebration that have included several innovative features to its ethnic repertoire such as the
Pichkaree (an Indo-Trinidadian Hindu art form whose lyrics speak to the cultural and political
disenfranchisement of the Hindu masses in the Caribbean) song competition.
The Pichkaree musical art form, therefore, must be understood as an ethno-cultural,
ethno-religious, and ethno-political resistance strategy that seeks to interrogate and confront the
hegemonic forces that have historically rendered the Indo-Trinidadian Hindu experience as
‘marginal’ to the larger Afro-Creole Caribbean cultural mainstream. What encourages this type
of thinking is the historically-specific racialized representation of ‘Hindu and ‘Indian’ as
Othered in Caribbean societies. Realizing that the Hindu situation in Trinidad was exhibiting a
more ‘passive’, ritualized form of religious expression that was being disseminated by
20


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