n Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies - Pachrāt song tradition and ritual agency in Trinidad

Volume 3 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2414-8636


In this paper, we explore female-centred worship in St. Mary’s Village, Oropuche, Trinidad, through the practice of an annual Kanya-Kumarie puja. In preparation for the puja, the women collect alms in the village while singing folk songs known as ‘pachrāt’. Specifically used in Devi puja, the songs all honour the Devi and narrate the rituals they perform and their appeals to her divine power. These women were the only group who still performed pachrāt songs in Trinidad. They view the songs as part of their worship of the divine feminine through whose worship they feel empowered as protectors of the community and drivers of cultural retention and social development. In this paper, we document this practice of singing pachrāt, along with the feelings of empowerment derived from its practice. We emphasise the village, and its role in fostering a sense of home, community and family for formerly indentured workers. It cultivated an ethic of care and communalism, resulting in the women’s empowerment as protectors and nurturers of the village.

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