Fitting that it is, seeing it is the 126th Ambedkar Jayanthi (Dr B R Ambedkar‘s birth anniversary, still is in my time zone). Babasaheb (as he’s affectionately called) fought for liberation from casteism as well as women empowerment, is this why people don’t care about him in Mauritius? Meanwhile, they care about Indians who shouldn’t matter, all the time.
I was posting recipes in advance for those who will but did not celebrate NY today bc of the death anniversary of Jesus. People who will not be centred in this country (a Hindu majority country where most of them are oppressed regardless of religion) and thus I feel I should delay my wishes generally. A Tamil Catholic nun was wishing me for Puthandu and she did not feel so… but I do. Everything one would see and hear about today centers Tamil Hindus, that it means this, that it is celebrated this way, at Mahatma Gandhi something, that there is x, y, z concerts but there is unity no competition between groups. They make it seem like Catholics and Muslims are no longer Tamil.
Indeed they try define what or who is Tamil. Yesterday someone known here, deplored that Anjalay’s child is not with us to celebrate, yet (I thought to myself) the daughter Anjalay had raised has been cast away and forgotten until the latter was aged 72 and had lived in misery. This year she would be aged 82 and I don’t know if Lachmee (in French) is still here, she’s been erased and forgotten during the last decade too, she has probably still been living in misery after toiling on a plantation. Forgotten because she didn’t get education? And who, among Tamil women, did not get an education? Dalit-Bahujan, working class, and I guess disabled women. Then some men like the Coopen who never actually gave his name to Anjalay Soondrum Pavattan but his name is now everywhere incl. on wikipedia, to bring him glory he never earned.
That aside, am I being extreme? Well, what about what happened before this week, for which we are yet to hear an apology? Tengur is from a different culture, sure, but probably Savarna too? While Christian Tamil/Telegu/Biharis are not, largely and these issues then affect them?
Once, a Savarna asked me, as if they despise that fact, why so many local Tamils have Christian first names. Sometimes it’s as if these Savarnas never interact with anyone else. Like Dr. Ambedkar, conversion was a path to dignity for them, even if they didn’t see it that way. In Mauritius, conversion has tended to be to Christianity – Catholics with Christian names and others keep their names. And there is no major division within families (this is an island, the extended family interact a lot), except if celebrations are Hindu (Hindu-centric), Christians (the minority) can’t or won’t go. I guess within Catholicism, there are also no barriers between Dalit-Bahujan and mixed-race Black Mauritians whether part-Indian or Malagasy or something*, though those Black folks go to Hindu stuff. I’m leaving out other Black folks bc there is anti-Blackness even in the new generation of these groups. It is systemic. Then there are popular hoteps (Black men in particular) addressing that, but who are pro-Hindu and anti-Catholic.
To end on a hopeful note (wrt casteism): Free books and PDFs
Best wishes for Pohela Boishakh, Vaishak (celebrated by oppressed immigrant workers here, many celebrate easter too). It is also Vaisakhi. Thingyan, Chol Chnam Thmey, Pi Mai Lao, Aluth Avurudhu, Pana Sankranti or Bisu are not relevant here, Alathu Aharudhuvas, Songkran maybe are. Vishu is more likely to be celebrated, there has been a community here since generations although I have yet to know of anyone, or hear of any official stuff or see anything on national TV in Malayali. My gran always mentioned some only by ethnic name, and as if they are Bania, well, jewellers.
*Many part-white mixed race and they don’t have to be white-passing are classist towards all the groups I mention, and hang out among themselves, with white people or with Savarna. So while others may often claim white partness bc of rainbowism and pro-whiteness, they also frown upon the whiter mixed-race Creole folks… who stay away out of classism more than colourism maybe. ‘Gran nom’ as one Black friend says, and one of those gran misie may have suffered from colourism, who knows, but aside from his gran nom (big name & I still don’t know which ones they are) and authoritarian/arrogant disposition that would’ve protected him, he was proud of his mother’s lightness. His father would’ve been dark-skinned and rich.