On June 5th every year, the Surinamese Hindu community in Holland and Suriname commemorates Prawas Deen, Hindu Immigration Day. Here you can read why.
On June 5, 1873, the first forced laborers arrived from India† Pakistan and Bangladesh †former British India) By boat in Suriname. The Netherlands needed these “Hindustanis,” a population group that is not by definition followers of the Hindu religion. Because of the end of slavery, the Netherlands could no longer perform hard work that was performed for free by slaves.
Before leaving for Suriname at Lala Rukh, Hindu immigrants were lured to the Dutch colony on false pretenses.
After their arrival, contract workers were subjected to exploitation, abuse and humiliation on the farms of Suriname. Racism wasn’t uncommon either. The Vlardingen Museum reports that more than 5,000 young people died during the period of colonial slave labor.
About 34,000 Hindus immigrated to Suriname between 1873 and 1916. The vast majority remained in the then Dutch colony after the five-year decade ended. The period of Hindu forced labor ended in 1916 after protests from India against exploitation.
In fact, there was only one difference between Bonded and enslaved servants replaced: The first group was given a plot of land after the expiry of the contract period. They can live there and grow food.
Around the independence of Suriname in 1975, a large group of Hindustani left Suriname for the Netherlands. The Netherlands has a population of nearly 170,000 with Hindu origins. This is the largest Surinamese group in the Netherlands.
Creole and Javanese follow. The smaller groups are the Chinese Surinamese and the indigenous people of Suriname.
The Hindustani Immigration National Monument has been located in The Hague since 2004. About 45,000 people of Hindustani Surinamese descent live in that city. The memorial was unveiled by then-Minister for Immigration and Integration Rita Verdonk. Suriname has remembered Prawas Din every year since its independence in 1975.
Johan Ferrer, Di The first president of independent Suriname, had Hindu roots† His grandmother Dhunphutteea arrived at the age of seven with Lalla Rookh in the then Dutch colony. Her mother did not survive the flight due to exhaustion and lack of food.
According to Kathleen Ferrier, a former Member of Parliament and daughter of the first president of Suriname, Prawas Din is not just a day to commemorate, but also to express gratitude.
“We owe the unique character of Suriname in part to the contributions of Hindustan contract workers with remarkable tenacity,” the current president of the Dutch Diaspora Institute told NU.nl. “The Netherlands has also benefited from this in this common history of the countries.”
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