Kala pani

Kala pani

The Kala Pani (literally, black water) represents the taboo of the sea in Indian culture, for which sailing the high waves and leaving the mainland meant confronting "houglis" or monsters.

Fear of crossing the Kala Pani also derives from the notion that it entailed the end of the reincarnation cycle, as the traveller was cut off from the regenerating waters of the Ganges. Such voyages also meant breaking family and social ties. This taboo accounts for the disinterest in overseas commerce on the part of high caste Hindus, who therefore left this lucrative field to Muslims, and to Christians and Jews settled in the spice enclaves such as Cochin and Calicut.

When slavery was abolished in Mauritius in 1834, the authorities looked for indentured labor to replace the slaves who had been emancipated. The emissaries sent to India for this purpose were astute in attracting so-called "coolies" to the countries such as South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji and the Caribbean that requiring cheap labor, which were often presented as "promised lands." But many prospective candidates for the distant colonies expressed their fears of crossing the Kala Pani [See the website Kala Pani at http://indenturedindian.wordpress.com] . So the British often employed a stratagem to dispel the doubts of the indentured: they placed water from the Ganges in large cauldrons on the ships, to ensure the continuity of reincarnation beyond the Kala Pani. The sea voyage was then seen as less fearsome.

Mauritian poet and critic Khal Torabully describes the Kala Pani as a source not only of the dissolution of identity, but also of beauty and reconstruction, leading to what he terms a "coral imaginary."


* Khal Torabully, "Cale d'étoiles-coolitude explores".

Sorry the term Kala Pani was actually coined and associated as well as most commonly known as an off shore island used by British during their rule in India to incarcerate hard core criminals and anyone who strongly oppose to their rule in India. But off course today British government would not mention all that.

External links

* Lomarsh Roopnarine, [http://www.guyanachronicle.com/supplement.html The Long Journey to Today: East Indians in Guyana] . "Guyana Chronicle Online"
* [http://www.ignca.nic.in/id_indentured_003.htm Crossing of Kala Pani] , from the exhibition [http://www.ignca.nic.in/id_exhib001.htm ORIGINS: Creative Tracks of Indian Diaspora]
* [http://indenturedindian.wordpress.com Kala Pani website]

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