Trinidad And Tobago: Culture And Social Beliefs

Carnival celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago. Editorial credit: Salim October /
Carnival celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago. Editorial credit: Salim October /

A large number of cultures have influenced the evolution of the Trinidad and Tobago culture. The distinct cultures that have a major influence on the culture of Trinidad and Tobago are Indian, African, Portuguese, Amerindian, Spanish, Chinese, and others. The country's links with the United Kingdom have left a major impact on its culture, and English is widely spoken across the nation. There is also a distinct difference between the histories and culture of Trinidad and Tobago and regional differences in the country as well. Here we inspect some of the basic aspects associated with the culture of Trinidad and Tobago and social beliefs in the country.

6. Religion In Trinidad And Tobago

Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, and Islam are the major religions in Trinidad and Tobago. The Anglicans, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Traditional African Religion, Taoism, etc., are some of the smaller religious groups in the country. The fastest growing religious groups in Trinidad and Tobago are the Spiritual Baptist, Yoruba/Orisha faith, and two Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths. American-style fundamentalist and evangelical churches are also gaining popularity in the country.

5. Festivals Celebrated In The Country

The Carnival which was introduced in Trinidad and Tobago by the French is one of the biggest public celebrations in the island nation. Originally celebrated by the elite class, the practice spread into the free population after the abolition of slavery in 1838. Christmas is also celebrated in the country when parang, a traditional style of music is played, and pastelle, fruit cake, black cake, sweet breads are eaten. The Hindu festivals of Diwali, Phagwah/Holi, and Shivratri are also celebrated in the country with great pomp and glory. Muslims observe Hosay which is the local form of the Shia Muslim Remembrance of Muharram.

4. Cuisine Of Trinidad And Tobago

There is a rich culinary diversity in Trinidad and Tobago, and the cuisine is often a blend of Indian, African, Arabian, European, Creole, Cajun, Spanish, Chinese, and other influences. For example, curried chicken, channa (chick peas), aloo choka (a potato preparation), roti (Indian flatbread) and white rice are examples of typical Indian dishes consumed here. Stewed chicken, red beans, homemade ginger beer, fried plantains are part of Creole cuisine. Chowmein is a popular Chinese dish in the country. Dumplings and crabs are also part of a Tobago meal. People of the country are known to be highly generous with food on religious and social festivals and events.

3. Music Of Trinidad And Tobago

Calypso, an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago culture, is a style of music that originated in the nation. It is an Afro-Caribbean music style that spread from the country to other parts of Caribbean and Venezuela. Its origin is traced back to the arrival of the African slaves with the French planters in the 18th century. Another music style that evolved in Trinidad and Tobago is the Soca which is a blend of Indian music and rhythms with the calypso. Chutney and Chutney Soca are also unique music styles in the country created by a mix of Indian and Soca styles. A fusion of Calypso and Soca in the 1970’s that grew out of social unrest in the country is the Rapso. A combination of Latin American and Caribbean style music gave birth to Parang in Trinidad and Tobago. Pichakaree is another form of music that involves the use of English and Trinidadian Hindi words.

2. Theatre And Literature

The Little Carib Theatre was the first folk dance company to be established in Trinidad and Tobago. The culture of Trinidad and Tobago also incorporates Indian plays like the Ram Leela. Nobel laureates like Sir Vidia Naipaul and other famous authors like Michael Anthony and Earl Lovelace originate from the country. Calypso is treated as oral literature in the country, and some contemporary calypsonians are Mighty Sparrow, Mighty Chalkdust, Drupatee, Lord Kitchener, and others. The painter Michel Jean Cazabon (1813–1888) is one of the most famous artists of Trinidad and Tobago. 

1. Social Beliefs In The Country

Afro-Trinidadian women in Trinidad and Tobago enjoy some degree of autonomy and dominance in their households. These women often are the heads of their multi-generational household. Women have also done well in the educational sector but still earn less than men, especially in the private industry. Marriage practices vary greatly in Trinidad and Tobago based on ethnicity and class. Afro-Trinidadians often go through the 3 stages of noncoresidential relationship followed by common-law marriages and then finally formal marriage. The trend of arranged marriages in the Indian community is gradually being replaced by the increased propensity of the young Indians to enter noncoresidential relationships. Due to the presence of colonial stereotypes of Blacks, Indians often resist intermarriages involving Blacks. As per Indian marriage customs, the bride would live with the groom’s family after marriage but the scenario is changing, and neolocal residence is becoming more popular.

Inheritance is primarily patrilineal in nature in most communities with the exception of Afro-Trinidadians where gender-based disputes over the inheritance of land are common. Education is highly preferred in Trinidad and Tobago and parents often make sacrifices to allow their children to attain higher education and white-collar jobs. Ethnic differences and classes often matter in the society of the country. Sociability and gregariousness are encouraged but not in business settings. Punctuality is not always expected, and habitual lateness is common in the country. Greeting passers-by in country districts is considered to be good manners and is an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago culture.


More in Society