Au­thor ded­i­cates book to East In­di­an folk­lore, su­per­sti­tion

Some 174 years ago when the Fa­tel Raza­ck brought 227 in­den­tured labour­ers from In­dia to Trinidad, they brought with them their cul­ture in the form of food, fash­ion, re­li­gion and mu­sic.

They al­so brought along their su­per­sti­tions and folk­lore, things that writer of Sug­ar Cane Val­ley Vashti Bowlah thinks are not high­light­ed enough.

That is the rea­son she de­cid­ed to write a book ded­i­cat­ed to East In­di­an folk­lore and su­per­sti­tion.

“If you don’t know where you came from how will you know where you’re go­ing?” Bowlah asked.

With just over 100 pages Bowlah’s book is called Sug­ar Cane Val­ley and is based on a vil­lage with the same name. It has eleven dif­fer­ent sto­ries about East In­di­ans and their ex­pe­ri­ences with folk­lore and su­per­sti­tions.

The first sto­ry is ti­tled the Churile of Sug­ar Cane Val­ley.

Ac­cord­ing to Bowlah, a Churile is the spir­it of a preg­nant woman who is look­ing for re­venge, she would try to harm oth­er preg­nant women.

“While grow­ing up our grand­par­ents would tell us do not go in the bush­es at 6 pm or at mid­day”, she said.

Curse of the Saapin is an­oth­er sto­ry in Sug­ar Cane Val­ley and it’s about a snake woman al­so known as the Saapin.

Bowlah de­scribed this woman as a very beau­ti­ful woman who can’t keep a hus­band.

“Every time she gets mar­ried, her hus­band dies”, Bowlah said.

Then there is the Sor­cer­ess, which ac­cord­ing to Bowlah, is a woman who us­es herbs to cure ill­ness­es, peo­ple de­scribed her as a witch and be­cause of this she was shunned.

“The Sor­cer­ess is just mis­un­der­stood,” Bowlah said.

An­oth­er char­ac­ter in Bowlah’s book is the Raakhas child, which is a de­formed child.

There are al­so sto­ries about Jin­nis and mer­maids.

Re­search for this book ac­cord­ing to Bowlah was not easy, she said she in­ter­viewed el­ders in the com­mu­ni­ty.

“When I see an el­der­ly per­son at an event I al­ways ap­proach them.” Bowlah said.

She al­so did a lot of read­ing, “I re­al­ly want­ed to pre­serve tra­di­tions that came from In­dia for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions” She said.

Bowlah does school tours to share her sto­ries on East In­di­an folk­lore and Su­per­sti­tions.

‘What makes it worth­while is the feed­back from stu­dents and par­ents” Bowlah said.

Bowlah’s Sug­ar Cane Val­ley is avail­able at R.I.K. book­stores.

- by Carisa Lee

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