chapter  10
A diachronic view of diaspora, the significance of religion and Hindu Trinidadians
ByMartin Baumann
Pages 19

During the 1950s, on the Caribbean island of Trinidad a proliferation of Hindu temples took place. Researcher Carolyn Prorok even spoke of an atmosphere of ‘frenetic temple building’ (Prorok 1995: 10). The construction of new temples went back to a renewed interest in ‘India’ and in Hindu bhakti devotion among the descendants of the indentured workers who had been shipped from India to the Caribbean during the nineteenth century. The temples were styled in a new architectural form, mirroring Christian churches, relying in fact, however, on a combination of known Hindu temple and assembly forms. This – in Hindu terms, innovative – temple architecture thus brought forth the ‘Trinidadian temple’ (Prorok 1991: 83), characterized by a long hall, filled with numerous rows of benches, and a raised area at the hall’s end, topped with a dome to indicate that this is where the deities reside. Of equal interest is that not only did the temples provide new homes for the transplanted gods, but they also served as places for political agitation of the Indian-based political party, the People’s Democratic Party. During the 1950s, political aims and religious concerns appeared indistinguishable, the ‘Hindu community’ being both a religious and a political body.