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Baptiste Proud to Share Knowledge

Baptiste Proud to Share Knowledge

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Rich in the knowledge of his ancestry, Osley Baptiste, a Vincentian of East Indian descent, is proud to share some of that information.

The Villa resident, tracing his ancestry, said he is the great grandson of Rambulock Singh, an Indian Hindi Pundit who was brought to St.Vincent and the Grenadines as an indentured labourer from India. {{more}}

Baptiste recalled meeting his great grandfather or (Arjah meaning grandfather) on the then Argyle Estate for the first time at age four when he was brought down from the Orange Hill Estate to live at Argyle. He remains adamant that his great grandfather was not an Indian king (Rajah) as some people have claimed. “He was an Arjah.

“He was praying to the sun,” Baptiste recounted, speaking of a ritual his great grandfather performed that struck him. Baptiste said the ceremonies that were practised were called the Katha and Surajhpuran.

“After Rambulock died there was a gentleman by the name of Little John who used to carry on the Hindu prayers. He lived at Calder, but when the Hindu religion went out, the people became Christians,” said Baptiste, who explained that the indentured labourers prayed to a God called Bhagawan.

Rambulock said Baptiste died at the age of 112.

Baptiste noted that his foreparents told him Indian Bay was one of the landing points for indentured labourers.

“They were consigned to different estates and while living on the estates they were christened and given Christian names. They were given the names of the overseers,” said Baptiste, who mentioned that some of the names given were: Baptiste, Sutherland, Moore, Phils, Bacchus, Bullock, Woods, Joseph, King, Thomas, Bowman, Gunsam and Deane.

Giving an account of his family tree starting with his mother’s line, Baptiste said he is the grandson of Sinanan Singh who was renamed Ridley Bacchus, the son of Eugina Bacchus (mother) and Simeon Baptiste (father), who was the son of Jhan Archoo, who also originated from India like Rambulock Singh. Archoo was christened and given the name John Baptiste.

“I should have been Archoo instead of Baptiste,” Baptiste proudly stated.

He said his grandfather Archoo’s brothers were taken to other estates and given surnames like Sutherland, Moore and Phils. This is one of the reasons given for some of the intermarriages that took place between the descendants of the East Indians.

Baptiste believes that the descendants of East Indians in St.Vincent and the Grenadines are fast losing their culture.

“I tried to organize an Indian Association but was told by legal people if we do that it would be counted as being racial,” said Baptiste who welcomes the idea of establishing an East Indian Heritage Foundation.

Highlighting some of the areas of St.Vincent and the Grenadines where the East Indians live, Baptiste referred to Calder, Akers, Richland Park, Georgetown, Park Hill, Orange Hill and Rose Bank.

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