Prof. Chan E.S. Choenni

5 June 2020: 147 years of Hindostani immigration

- handy booklet -
Hindorama | Lalla Rookh

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,- + €3.64 ship­ping. Please note that due to the coro­na cri­sis, deliv­ery may be delayed.

Out­lets in the Nether­lands and Suri­name