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14th ANNUAL NATRAJ FOLK ARTS FESTIVAL

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We celebrate our 18th Anniversary with a special program on the journey of Indians who were taken as Indentured Laborers to the Caribbean by the British.

The program will be hosted by Dr. Visham Bhimull, a Primary Care Physician, language researcher, cultural activist.

He is the founder of https://caribbeanhindustani.org/                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ***                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Ashook Kumar Ramsaran will tell the story of how Indians were taken to the Caribbean as indentured laborers but with their hard work and persistence managed to accomplish great things.

How the elders in the community taught their children and grandchildren their language culture and religion which is how they managed to hang on to it against all odds.

If India had been a part of the British Empire before the abolition of slavery then they would have been taken as slaves instead.

But they managed to keep their language and culture because they could stay together as a family unit instead of being sold individually as slaves.

***

Born in Guyana, Ashook Kumar Ramsaran is a third generation Indian whose ancestors came to Guyana as indentured laborers (1853 &1860). He worked in Guyana’s magistrate’s courts before emigrating to the US in 1968 where he earned his BSEE and MSEE degrees. He was VP of Engineering in an international communications company before launching his own electronics manufacturing enterprise in New York called Ramex which has been listed among the Top 100 Indian Owned Businesses in USA for 10 consecutive years.

Ashook K. Ramsaran is Founder/President of the Indian Diaspora Council (IDC) and past president of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He is the Executive VP of GOPIO International and Chairperson of GOPIO’s Tracing Our Roots Committee. He is Co-Founder & DG of the Guyanese East Indian Civic Association (GEICA), and Director of the Caribbean Business Council (CBC).

He is actively engaged in the Queens Civic Congress, New York Presbyterian Hospital Advisory Council, St. John’s University Center for Caribbean & Latin American Studies and was accorded a special recognition by St. John’s University in 2007 and a scholarship for Diaspora studies was established in his name.

Ramsaran also collaborates with New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA - NYC) on annual events on immigrant experiences in New York City. He has been honored as an “Outstanding Immigrant” by New York City Council and serves annually as “Principal For The Day” in the New York Public School system. He was honored by a Special Proclamation by City of New York in 2009 for his outstanding contributions as an immigrant in the US and was the recipient of “Asian Heritage Award” in New York in 2010.

He was featured in the Global Indian 2010 publication of “Top 25 Indian Luminaries of the World” and several local, national, regional and international publications. In 2011, he was listed among “The Top 25 Most Influential Indians in North America” and was given a special award in Toronto, Canada.

Ramsaran collaborates with India’s Ministry of Overseas Indians Affairs on global Indian Diaspora matters and the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) events. He initiated and chaired the first “Tracing Our Roots” session at PBD 2005; speaker at PBD 2007; PBD2008; PBD2009, PBD2010 and PBD2011. He was the Convenor of GOPIO’s 20th Anniversary Convention 2009 in New York. Ramsaran collaborated closely with the Government of India to dedicate the Kolkata Memorial India in 2011 in remembrance of indentured laborers sent to British colonies from 1834 thru’ 1920. Ramsaran is spearheading the effort by the Global Indian Diaspora Heritage Society for a museum/resource center in Kolkata where Indian indentured laborers were processed prior to assignment in British colonies.

Ramsaran received the Government of India’s Pravasi Samman Award by the President of India in 2011 - the highest honor bestowed by the Government of India to a person of Indian origin living outside of India.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ***                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Rukminee Beepath will present traditional Indians songs which are sung during special occassions like the birth of a child, wedding ceremonies etc

A third generation Indian Rukminee Beepath was born in at Granville Cedros. She acquired her Teacher's Diploma from Corinth Teachers' Training College and graduated with a Diploma in Drama Theatre Arts in Education from UWI. She has been a teacher for 40 years and is certified in Hindi, Broadcasting and Reiki.

Rukminee trained in vocals with Mungal Patasarand at The Caribbean School of Indian Music and now has her own group Sangeet Milan, which performs at weddings, barahee, birthdays etc in Trinidad & Tobago.

She volunteers to teach her songs at various temples, prganizations, schools and has even helped schools attain high positions in the Baal Vikaas Competitions with her numerous compositions.

Rukminee is the founder of the Indian Cultural Centre Caparo and has been the recipient of many awards for preserving Hindu Arts & Culture and has published books which reflect the songs that are sung on different Hindu occasions e.g. Vivaaha Geet for wedding songs, Janama Geet for songs which commemorate birth, Ganga Darshanam songs for Kartik Snaan, Heartfelt Expressions a book of Poems and finally her latest publication 140 bhajans for Antyesthi Sanskaar or Funeral Rites.

Rukminee has accompanied these texts with CD compilations so that it is easy for persons to learn the songs from the text.

Her work is available at

http://www.hindisongstt.com/book_listing.php?catId=43

To obtain your copies of CD's by Rukminee visit

http://www.hindisongstt.com/song_listing.php?catId=88

Rukminee is the daughter of Harry and Samdaye Holass both of whom were her driving inspiration and sister of Budram Holass who is well known for his contribution to Indian Culture. 

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