Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Fellowship through the Hindi language in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | August 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Rachelle (left) and Chantelle Biersay perform a dance routine at the Indian High Commission and the Hindi Club of Jamaica commemoration of Hindi Day in 2011-File.

Charlene Johnson, Contributor

This year commemorates the 10th year since the Hindi Club of Jamaica was founded, and for the first time, the club will be hosting a Hindi-Jam Fest to celebrate Hindi Day on Sunday, September 14, at Club India, 38 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston 5, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The event will be held under the patronage of the High Commissioner of India, His Excellency Shri Pratap Singh, and Club India. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission is also associated with this event.

The primary objective for hosting Hindi-Jam Fest is to develop fellowship among Indians and Jamaicans through the Hindi language. The event will be showcasing a mix of Indian and Jamaican culture - food and live entertainment. Admission is free and refreshments and Indian-Jamaican cultural food will be on sale.

The Hindi Club of Jamaica is a language institution, founded by Dr Sitaram Poddar and his wife, Dr Damayanti Poddar, on January 28, 2004 - the day which was proclaimed as International Sitaram Poddar Day. Poddar has been teaching Hindi since 1991. He formally established the club in order to bring all the present and past Hindi students as a family, and also to get them associated with other Hindi-speaking families. In essence, the objective of the institution is to transfer the Hindi language to Jamaicans; allow Jamaicans to develop fellowship with the local and native Indians; and allow for cultural exchange between the people of Jamaica and India.

teaching programme

The Hindi teaching programme comprises three parts: the basic course, which runs for one year, the advanced course for two years; and the diploma course for another two years. Hindi classes are held every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon at Club India, 38 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston 5. There is no tuition fee attached to the programme. After the completion of each segment of the course, a certificate is awarded, which is recognised by the High Commission of India under the government of India Hindi Scheme.

Hindi is the fifth most spoken language in the world and is currently under consideration as an official United Nations language. Hence, tertiary institutions in Jamaica should encourage students to take advantage of these offerings, in order to build stronger social ties with international partners, which will foster economic development for our country. At present, the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago offers a course in Hindi.


The Hindi language was originated in India. The language was first brought to Jamaica by the indentured Indian labourers in 1845-1917, most of whom settled in Jamaica. Immigration has led many Indian professionals to our Jamaican shores, who still speak Hindi, so the language has become somewhat cemented in our everyday dialect. Some Hindi words are found in our Jamaican Patois.

The governments of India and Jamaica have signed several memoranda of understanding to aid with the development of the Jamaican economy. One such bilateral agreement is the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme, in which India offers 15 slots annually to Jamaicans to be trained in various institutions in India.

India is fast developing into a world superpower and younger Jamaicans need to learn more about India and its culture for future trading and international relations. According to C.S. Lewis, "The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are."

For more information on the Hindi classes, please contact Dr Poddar at or by calling 977-4964.