With their food, natural talents and sheer genius, our East Indian fore parents have made invaluable
contributions towards the economic and cultural development of our nation. Together, these contributions have enriched the Guyanese way of life. In this piece, we will examine some of their
magnificent endowments to our society.
Curry – A dish of meat or vegetables cooked in a paste made of a variety of Indian spices.
Roti- A type of Indian flatbread that comes in many different shapes and flavors. Roti is served
with a variety of stews and curry.
Dhal- A type of spicy soup made from split peas. It is usually eaten with rice or roti.
Dhalpuri-A flat bread that is stuffed with a savory filling of ground split peas. It is eaten with sour; a
type of chutney, curry, stews and vegetables.
Sweet Meats – Mithai, Pakora, Gulab Jamun, Vermicelli, etc.
Jewelry has been a significant adornment for Indian women since ages. Its significance in an
Indian woman’s life can be judged from the number of jewelry gifts she receives on a variety of
auspicious occasions. Indian women decorating themselves with jewelry is not only a customary
tradition, but also has a lot of values attached to each and every piece. Some of the jewelry East Indians contributed includes finger rings, bracelets, bangles, brooches, anklets, nose rings and earrings that extend from the bottom of the ear lobe to the nose.
They have also contributed tilleries, which are
heavily ornamented necklaces.
Sari- The sari, sometimes spelled saree, is a draped dress, created from a single piece of fabric
– five to nine yards long, which is wrapped around a woman’s body in a variety of ways. It is
wrapped around the waist and worn with one end draped over the shoulder. The sari is seen as a
symbol of style, grace and cultural pride. While women wear the sari, men wear a version of the
wrapped garment called a dhoti.
The shawl resembles a scarf and is a part of women’s traditional Indian clothing. It protects the wearer’s head as well. The dupatta has long been a representation of modesty and comes with the shalwar and lehenga.
Shalwars- The shalwar includes loose-fitting trousers tapering to a narrow fit around the ankles paired with a long decorated top.
Kurtas- This is a straight cut, collarless shirt that falls just above or somewhere below the knees. It
is traditionally worn by men but women also wear them.
Lahenga- The Lahenga is a skirt which is long and beautifully embellished with beads and sequins. It is worn as the bottom portion of a Gharara while the choli is worn as the upper garment.
Jama- This is the traditional garb of the Indian groom. He is dressed in this attire to stand
out like a king on his special day. This outfit carries long sleeves and several pleats to the waist. To complete this look, a sehra is worn on the head. This mimics a crown but is decorated
with gems and beads.
Kathak- The Kathak is one of the six classical dances of India. The word Katha, which comes
from the Sanskrit language meaning story or tale, can be traced back to Vedic times. An ancient
storytelling device, Kathak originated within the Hindu temples as a means of portraying the epic
tales contained within the Mahabharata and Ramayana Hindu scriptures. It combines poetry
with rhythmic movement, aided in the worshipful storytelling.
Bharatanatyam- The Bharatanatyam is one of the most popular and widely practiced classical
dance styles of India, with evidence dating back nearly 3000 years. A highly spiritual and dedicatory dance form, Bharatanatyam’s roots go back to the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu in South India. The dance moved from temples to theaters over time, but has retained its characteristic devotional component, expression of human emotions and stylized storytelling. The flexibility of the Bharatanatyam framework lends itself well to both traditional themes as well as modern day subjects. While it was originally performed only by female soloists, Bharatanatyam is now performed by
males as well as ensembles all over the world. In i t s p r e s e n t form, Bharatanatyam i s
approximately 200 years old, and continues to evolve as a “living” performance art.
Odissi- Odissi or Orissi is one of the pre-eminent classical dance forms from India which originated in the Hindu temples of the eastern coastal state of Odisha in India. Its theoretical base trace back to ‘Natya Shastra’, the ancient Sanskrit Hindu text on the performing arts. The age-old tradition of Odissi is manifested from Odisha Hindu temples and various sites of archaeological significance that are associated with Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, which adorn dance postures of this art form. A form of illustrative anecdote of mythical and religious stories, devotional poems and spiritual ideas
emoted by dancers with excellent body movements, expressions, impressive gestures and sign languages, its performance repertoire includes invocation, nrita, nritya, natya and moksha. This dance form includes themes from Vaishnavism and others associated with Hindu gods and goddesses like Lord Shiva, Surya and Shakti.