Kahe Gaile Bides Why Did You Go Overseas?: On Bhojpuri Migration Since the 1870s and Contemporary Culture in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Suriname and the Netherlands

The period between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century was marked by a massive global churning in the form of the migration of huge populations of Indians to various countries like Suriname, Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad, and other Caribbean countries. All these Indians, most of whom belonged to the Bhojpuri region of Bihar but some also to the Awadh and Magadh regions of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, were taken to work as indentured labourers in plantations owned by colonial countries like United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. This migration on such a large scale has left a lasting impression on world history as it made deep inroads into the psyche of millions of people all over the world. Its effects can be seen even today in various forms and the question `Kahe gaile bides' (Why did you go overseas?) still underlies the literature and culture of both the people of the Bhojpuri region of India and of the descendants of the original migrants who stayed on in the destination countries after the period of indentureship ended. At present, although these people of Indian origin have become a part of the native population of these countries and form significant minority groups there, they have preserved the language and culture of their ancestors even while imbibing the culture and language of their destination countries through a long process of acculturation.Bidesia team presenting the Bidesia project to a Dutch Hindustani audience in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 13 October 2005. From left to right: Chitra Gajadin, Sahiensha Ramdas, Maurits Hassankhan, Badri Narayan Tiwari, Narinder Mohkamsing, Susan Legene.Many people came to the presentation of the Bidesia project in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 13 October 2005. The same happened at a public meeting in Paramaribo on 16 January 2005, at the Lalla Rookh Building.