Bindi: The Multifaceted Lives of Indo-Caribbean Women by Rosanne Kanhai

By Rosanne Kanhai

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The timing and degree of such transformations simultaneously depended on and reflected the extent and nature of the social, economic and religious transformation occurring within both the Hindu community and the wider society. However, what really cemented the Ramayana’s impact on the Hindu wedding ceremony was the fact that, despite the transformations generated by time, place and circumstance, the core rituals and their basic format corresponded significantly to those contained in the Ramcharitmanas.

During the earliest period of indenture, the “sit-down” relationship, in which a couple quite frequently just started living together, was a common form of union. This was on account of the disparity in the male–female ratio and the uncertainty and general instability of that period. In addition, the high level of both male and female infidelity during this time would have deterred active inclusion of the Ramayana into marriage rituals, since it promoted essentially monogamous behaviour. The emergence of Indian villages from the 1880s onwards stimulated a focus on community and family reconstitution and led to reconstruction of fragments of the traditional Hindu wedding ceremony.

Shaking hands, she leaves that to the others . . 66 Several explanations can be proffered for the exclusion of handshaking from “the culture of the Hindu woman”. The social interaction and “assertiveness” that the gesture suggests, especially with members of the opposite sex, contradict the not uncommonly held notion that the Hindu woman should “lead from behind”. 68 Most interviewees for this study agreed that Hindu women were striking a good balance between their customary and Women in the Ramayana Tradition in Trinidad 45 newer roles.

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