Mere Desh celebrates 33rd anniversary

Ravi Jagroop, a versatile local classical singer will perform alongside several artistes at Mere Desh 2023. -
Ravi Jagroop, a versatile local classical singer will perform alongside several artistes at Mere Desh 2023. -

Classical singing and folk singing hold immense significance in the social fabric of East Indians who have settled in the Caribbean.

These musical traditions have served as a means of relaxation, self-expression, and community cohesion.

The emergence of traditional chutney in the 1940s, along with the practice of classical singing in preceding decades, not only laid the foundation for chutney soca but also provided a lifeline for talented musicians struggling with economic hardships, eventually making music their livelihood.

For years, the Mere Desh organisation has provided a platform for staging the fading art form of traditional Indo-Trinidadian music.

Ajeet Praimsingh, the founder of Mere Desh, encouraged the involvement of children in such events, recognising their potential and passion for classical and traditional styles of music.

Now spearheading this event since the passing of her father, Savitree Praimsingh said, “The enthusiasm displayed by these young musicians in entering competitions is remarkable, and it is a rarity to witness such fervour among children. These talented individuals often lack the resources to express their abilities, and that is precisely where Mere Desh steps in – to provide an outlet for their talents.”

This year’s competition, in celebration of Mere Desh’s 33rd anniversary will be in tribute to Indian cultural Budram Holass.

Holass and his siblings were immersed in a rich musical heritage fostered by their talented parents, singers and musicians specialising in the local classical tradition. Holass has mastered a wide-ranging repertoire that includes classical melodies, semi-classical renditions, wedding and folk songs, biraha, film compositions, devotional pieces, chutney tunes, chutney soca, and beyond. The fruits of his prowess are evident in the release of many internationally acclaimed CDs.

Budram Holass, left, with the late and Ajeet Praimsingh. Photo courtesy Mere Desh -

From a young age, Holass took part in diverse competitions, accumulating a multitude of accolades and titles. Having been a finalist in many of TT’s esteemed competitions in the past, he has garnered numerous awards from various organisations, recognising his contributions to the vibrant cultural tapestry. His talent propelled him on tours spanning Suriname, Guyana, Canada, the US, Mauritius and India.

Today, the committee of Mere Desh emphasises that its Indian Arrival celebrations are not solely intended for Indo-Trinidadians. In fact, it has never been limited to that group.

“The purpose of this day is to commemorate the arrival of East Indians in the Caribbean alongside those who share both similar and dissimilar histories” explained Praimsingh. “While the event highlights the achievements and contributions of East Indians to our nation, Indian Arrival Day serves as a reminder to Indo-Trinidadians that our roots lie in this history, and it is an integral part of our identity. We cannot alter our history; we must wholeheartedly embrace our heritage.”

This year’s competition, open to those 20 and under, will be held on May 30 at Passage to Asia Restaurant, Chaguanas from 2.30 pm. Entry is free to the public.


"Mere Desh celebrates 33rd anniversary"

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