Prof. Chan E.S. Choenni

June 5, 2020: 147 years of Hindostani immigration

- handy booklet -

June 5, 2020 is exactly 147 years ago that Hindostanis from India set foot in Suriname. The sailing ship Lalla Rookh departed from the port city of Calcutta on Wednesday 26 February 1873 and arrived in Suriname on Wednesday 4 June 1873 after a journey of more than three months. However, the Lalla Rookh remained anchored on the Suriname River near Fort Nieuw Amsterdam. The Lalla Rookh was an iron sailing ship of 1,277 tons (the carrying capacity/contents of the ship) and had too much depth. Therefore it could not sail to the port in Paramaribo. The 410 Hindostani immigrants were only disembarked on Thursday 5 June 1873 in small boats and taken in at the Fort Nieuw Amsterdam located on the right bank of the Suriname River. Therefore, not June 4, but June 5, is the date for the commemoration and celebration of Hindostani immigration. From New Amsterdam they were then handed over to the plantations of the owners who had ordered them. The first shipment of Hindostani immigrants has therefore not been accommodated in the so-called Coolie depot in Paramaribo located on the left bank of Suriname River, the place where the mai and baba immigration monument stands. Most of the immigrants who arrived in Suriname were taken in at the depot. The Lalla Rookh (meaning the tulip-cheeked) became the icon of Hindostani immigration. In English-speaking countries, the day of first arrival of Indian immigrants is known as Indian Arrival Day. It is worth noting that the young woman Dhunputteea also arrived with the Lalla Rookh. She was áji (paternal grandmother) of dr. J. Ferrier, the first President of Suriname.

Traditionally, there are commemorations and celebrations on and around the annual Hindostani immigration day. Lectures, seminars and/or parties are often organised. In the past, parades were also organized in Suriname. Brochures and books were also sometimes published. Unfortunately, due to the so-called corona pandemic and the risk of the spread of the deadly COVID-19, all Hindostani immigration activities have been called off. Nevertheless, Hindorama decided not to let the 147th Hindostani Immigration Day pass unnoticed and, despite all kinds of restrictions on this day, to publish a booklet with many pictures. With enthusiastic support from Radjin Thakoerdin (publisher Sampreshan | Hindorama) and Kanta Adhin (editor I have composed this colourful work on the history of Hindostanis that covers the period 1873-2015. It covers 52 pages in A5 format and is titled History of Hindostani migration in short cutlery (1873-2015). This handy booklet that deals with immigration from India, settlement and integration in Suriname, as well as integration in the Netherlands, can be ORDER in 5 chapters via The price is 5 euros excluding shipping.

Chan Choenni et al., Hindostaanse migratiegeschiedenis in kort bestek (1873-2015). Zoetermeer 2020: Sampreshan, ISBN 9789080509269, 52 pp, prijs € 5,-

Historical photos

The booklet is richly illustrated with photographs. Beautiful historical photographs have been taken that give an atmospheric picture of the development of the Hindostani community over time. This is part of a historical photographs project with the aim of providing the visual documentation of Hindostani history. You can contribute to this by submitting historical photos. The published booklet handily shows the fascinating history of a special population group. Hindostanis have succeeded in being successful in both Suriname and the Netherlands over time. Their culture has also been largely preserved. Politically, they have been less successful; a large part has been forcibly migrated from Suriname to the Netherlands. But against the background of their emigration from India, the exploitation and hardship in the contract period, this success is remarkable. The more than 34,000 Hindostanis contract workers (almost a third returned to India) and the approximately 3,000 Hindostanis from the surrounding Caribbean countries who migrated to Suriname between 1865-1920, have gradually formed a Hindostani community. It reflects the strength of a community that has saved it despite all the setbacks, with many also succumbing to exploitation and hardship. We remember them today, but at the same time we celebrate the success of the Hindostani community. Through diligence, perseverance and faith in progress, the survivors have shown their descendants the way. We are grateful to them and proud of what we have achieved to our ability. Their history and our history must not be lost. On the contrary: this history must be documented and passed on to current and future generations. Partly for this purpose, started as a website last June. This portal from and about the Hindostanis also provides up-to-date information both in the Netherlands and in Suriname. has been around for one year and has become a successful website with a digital library, managed by volunteers. Unfortunately, the celebration of one year is currently not possible in connection with the corona pandemic. However, we hope to hold a celebration in the form of a seminar in August 2020. The booklet on the history of Hindostanis will be available on site. Further information will follow in due course.


The price of the booklet is €5,- + €3,84 shipping. Please note that due to the corona crisis, delivery may be delayed.