Suriname

Suriname facts and information about the country.

HISTORY

Virtually all the prehistoric sites excavated in Suriname to date indicate extensive contact and influences moving east from the Venezuela-Orinoco area over long periods of time. Twentynine sites in southern Suriname, in the Sipaliwini savannah, have been identified, primarily places where stone tools were made using quartz and rhyolite. The points, knives, and scrapers are comparable to the Las Casitas complex of Venezuela, dated at 9,000 to 8,000 years ago. Both oval and round hammerstones—used to split the artifacts from the cores—were found in the stone debris, evidence that these were stoneworking sites. The Sipaliwini people lived on the savannahs in small camps and procured their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing. They hunted small game with bows and arrows. Following the Sipaliwini culture, the archaeological record indicates that no one lived in the region of Suriname for several thousand years, although it is also possible that the inhabitants simply left no evidence that has survived.

Around 4,000 B.C.E., the South American Tropical Forest culture replaced the Hunter-Gatherer culture. Several interrelated developments associated with its appearance happened fairly quickly: The major dietary element was cassava (or manioc), which was produced by shifting cultivation; processing the bitter cassava required a sophisticated ceramics technology to produce pottery containers for storing cassava products (cassiri, cassava beer, for example), a matapí (a plaited press), a grater, and a griddle. The partial conversion to agriculture forced other changes: People lived in villages more permanently; their homes were better constructed than the dwellings of the hunter-gatherers; and these villages were established where the land favored cultivating cassava.

Around 1,000 (or perhaps earlier) an agrarian people inhabited the Central Orinoco region of Venezuela. This culture is distinguished by its pottery: red and white painting; characteristic handles; and figures shaped like humans and other animals attached to the pottery (adornos). This culture is called Saladoid after the Venezuelan town where the site is located, Saladero. The Saladoid pottery tradition is found in a vast area stretching from the Central Orinoco to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic over a long period of time. At sites in Suriname, one a village of slash-and-burn farmers, ceramics characteristic of the Saladoid tradition have been found. Two later pottery styles of the OrinocoVenezuela region—Barrancoid and Arauquinoid— are also found in Suriname.

The oldest site in Suriname is Kaurikreek, a village situated in West Suriname on a creek with the same name. Kaurikreek is Suriname’s oldest ceramic site and evidence that Suriname had a bona fide Tropical Forest culture long before the current era began. The Kaurikreek site has produced two charcoal datings: one about 3,600 years old (c. 2400–1600 B.C.E) and another about 2,500 years old (c. 800–500 B.C.E.). The pottery has appliqué decorations in geometrical patterns, made by pressing thin strips of clay onto the clay of the vessel wall before it was fired.

Between 300 C.E. and 1000 freshwater conditions occurred in the coastal plain, and a group of Amerindians developed a complex system of permanent agriculture to grow cassava. They built up clay mounds for both their villages and their cassava fields, creating all the elements for permanent cultivation. Around 300 a group raised two mounds for villages in Suriname, where early-Mabaruma pottery of the Barrancoid Tradition has been found. This community remained on these mounds until around 600, when it appears that they either abandoned them or were forced to flee. Both of the mounds were deserted, and new mound-settlements were constructed farther west. A very different Venezuelan pottery style—the Hertenrits style—has been found at these more recent mounds. Hertenrits pottery belongs to the Arauquinoid style, not the Barrancoid.

Although many of the cultures identified in Suriname came from the west, a couple of centuries prior to European colonization (1492) a group arrived in Suriname that came from the southeast, probably around the lower Amazon. These people were slash-and-burn farmers. Their pottery is referred to as Koriabo style and dates to about 1200. The Koriabo people dispersed throughout Suriname, although more of their settlements are found in the northern part of the country than in the southern. Only one area of Suriname was not inhabited by the Koriabo, the western coastal area. Koriabo sites have been found in the interior of western Suriname and along the entire coast of the Guyanas as far as west Suriname. This geographical distribution may mean that the Hertenrits people were so strong that they stopped the westward expansion of the Koriabo people along the coast.

While the prehistory of Suriname is characterized by three food procurement systems—huntergatherers, farmers with shifting cultivation, and farmers with permanent cultivation—in colonial times there were only Amerindians who engaged in shifting cultivation, with cassava as their main crop. No pottery of any prehistoric group has been connected with the pottery of the Amerindians from the colonial period, including that of the Koriabo, who arrived in Central and East Suriname a couple of centuries prior to 1492. It seems likely that the permanent agrarian cultures were already declining when the Koriabo people arrived in the 13th or14th century to displace them.

When the prehistoric period ended and by the time the first Europeans appeared, the Late Hertenrits culture had a relatively powerful position, and the Koriabo people controlled the remainder of the coastal region. The Spanish came to the region in 1593 but did not settle in Suriname, since it did not look like a lucrative prospect to them. The first Europeans to settle in Suriname were the Dutch, around 1602. The Dutch West India Company, which came to control the region and exploit it, was founded in 1621. In 1650 the English entered the region and developed sugar and tobacco plantations along the west bank of the Suriname River. The settlement they established is now Paramaribo. In 1667, the Dutch and British signed the Treaty of Breda whereby the Dutch traded New Amsterdam (New York) to the English in exchange for their territory in Suriname. They named their new colony Netherlands Guiana.

The Dutch brought slaves from Africa to work on the plantations. The slaves were treated brutally, and many fled the plantations and settled in the interior of the country. The Dutch called these Maroon, or Bush Negro, settlements.

When France annexed the Netherlands during the Napoleonic Wars in 1799, the British seized the opportunity and reoccupied Suriname. But when Napoleon (1769–1821) was defeated in 1816, they returned the territory to the Dutch. Finally in 1863 the Dutch abolished slavery and after 1870 brought in laborers from India, China, Portugal, and Java in place of slaves.

In 1948 the region was integrated into the Kingdom of the Netherlands and in 1950, the Dutch granted home rule to Suriname. Finally after a spate of rioting, complete independence was granted in 1975. A coup in 1980 established military rule in Suriname, and Lieutenant Colonel Désiré Bouterse (b. 1945) became the military ruler. In 1982 when soldiers killed 15 journalists and a number of politicians and union officials, however, the Netherlands stopped all aid to Suriname. This decision severely damaged the economy of the newly independent nation.

Eventually in 1988 democracy was restored, and the insurgency decreased. A peace treaty between the government and the guerrilla groups was signed in 1992. A series of presidents followed, but none of their different policies slowed the plummeting currency. Finally in January 2004, Suriname changed its currency from the guilder to the dollar.

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE

Located in the northern part of South America, Suriname is surrounded by French Guiana, Guyana, and Brazil. It is the smallest independent country in South America. The Surinamese terrain is characterized by fertile coastal areas in the north and tropical forests and savannah grasslands in the south. The two important rivers of Suriname are the Marowijne and the Corantijn. The highest point in the region is Juliantop at 4,220 feet above sea level.

Surname enjoys a tropical climate with no major variations in temperature throughout the year. The temperature ranges from 70°F to 93°F. There are two rainy seasons: from April to July and from November to January. Although hurricanes are not a threat in the region, Suriname is prone to sibibusi (which means “forest broom”), heavy thundershowers.

Orinoco River

The Orinoco, 1,330 miles long, is one of the longest rivers in South America. Starting on the VenezuelanBrazilian border, in the Cerro Delgado Chalbaud, in the Parima range, the Orinoco meanders through Venezuela, making a wide arc, first flowing southwest, then west, north, and finally northeast, where it drains into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Paria. A notable feature of the Orinoco river system is the Casiquiare Canal: Initially an arm of the Orinoco, the Casiquiare Canal flows into the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon, forming a natural canal between the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers. The river is navigable for much of its length, and archaeologists posit that the canal served as a major cultural link between Amerindians in Venezuela and Suriname. The Orinoco, as well as the Amazon River, is inhabited by the Amazon River dolphin.

Suriname has a wide variety of flora including several species of orchids, as well as flowers such as fajalobi (passionate love) and heliconia. Fauna are represented by blue poison frogs, monkeys, hummingbirds, macaws, deer, wild boars, anteaters, armadillos, howler monkeys, and the capybara.

CULTURE AND LIFESTYLE

Suriname is a melting pot of cultures, a mixed inheritance from its past as a colony. The nation is home to Hindustanis (Indians who migrated to Suriname in the 19th century), Creoles (people with mixed— black-and-white—ancestry), Amerindians, Maroons (descendants of Africans brought to Suriname as slaves), Chinese, and some Europeans. Dutch is the official language of Suriname, although English is also widely spoken. Hindustani (a dialect of an Indian language), Javanese, Djuka and Saramaccan (both English-based Creoles), and Srnang Tongo (also known as Taki-Taki, a native language of Creoles) are also spoken in Suriname. Around 48 percent of the population is Christian (Roman Catholic and Protestant), while the remaining citizens adhere to Hinduism, Islam, and indigenous religious beliefs.

Suriname is famous for its kasekomusic, a fusion of traditional folk and popular styles of music of the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Songs are sung solo or in a choir, and there are also “call and response” songs that require interaction between the main singer and the audience. Musical instruments such as snare drums, trumpets, saxophones, and skratji (a large drum) are used. The Surinamese also enjoy jazz, calypso, rock, and reggae.

Maroon women are very skillful in the art of making bowls and utensils from the branches of the calabash tree, which bears hard-shelled, gourdlike fruit on its trunk and main branches.

ECONOMY

Suriname is struggling to stabilize its economy, which has been marred by high inflation due to bad economic policies. With the assistance of the Dutch government, the Surinamese government has introduced a number of progrowth fiscal policies aimed at liberalizing the economy, encouraging privatization of industries, and developing the gold and other mining sectors. The bauxite industry is the main revenue generator for the Surinamese economy; it constitutes 70 percent of the country’s export earnings and contributes 15 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Some of the export items of Suriname include alumina, aluminum, rice, crude oil, shrimp and fish, bananas, and lumber.

CUISINE

Although Surinamese cuisine is primarily African in nature, the influences of Creole, Indian, and Chinese cuisines are also evident. Some of the tradi-

The Amerindian culture group Waiono prays in its native language near the Kwakoe monument in downtown Paramaribo during a celebration to commemorate the abolition of slavery. (AP Photo/Edward Troon)

tional dishes include bakkeljauw (salted fish), ebi (salted and dried shrimp), stofoes (a dish made from meat and fish), zoute vlees (a salted beef brisket ), pom (casseroles of fish, meat, and vegetables spiced with nutmeg, pimento, and laurel), pinda soep met tom-tom (peanut soup), kouseband (a dish made with French beans), aloo tarkari (potatoes made in the Indian style), spitskool (oxheart cabbage), sweet potatoes, and cassava (tapioca).

Public/Legal Holidays

NEW YEAR’S EVE/DAY

Observed by:General Public Observed on:December 31–January 1 January 1 marks the beginning of the Western, or Gregorian, calendar, and is widely celebrated as New Year’s Day. Celebrations take place all over the world, beginning on December 31 (New Year’s Eve). In Suriname elaborate parties are held on Owruyari (the local name for New Year’s Eve) throughout the country. In the capital city of Paramaribo, street parties and cultural events, as well as artistic performances, are organized by the Surifesta Foundation, the body that has been put in charge of arranging New Year’s Eve parties by the government of Suriname, and turning them into tourist attractions. Besides good music and great food, people are treated to a colorful display of fireworks to announce the arrival of the new year.

LABOR DAY

Observed by:General Public Observed on:May 1 May 1 is celebrated as Labor Day, also known as May Day and Workers’ Day, in many parts of the world to celebrate the important role played by workers in building nations and societies. In 1889 the Second International, a consortium of socialist organizations, declared May 1 a day to recognize the importance of workers around the world and scheduled the first demonstrations and celebrations for the following year, 1890. They coordinated this observance with the strike called by the U.S. labor union, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), demanding an eight-hour workday. Although the AFL’s strike was postponed, the international holiday was celebrated anyway.

See also Volume III: LABORDAY

EMANCIPATION DAY

Observed by:General public Observed on: July 1 Emancipation Day, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the abolition of slavery by the Dutch on July 1, 1863. This day is also known as Keti Koti (“breaking of the chains of slavery”) among blacks in Suriname. Descendants of the slaves celebrate this day with great joy and enthusiasm, and special parties are planned. Exhibits, cultural events, and official speeches are the highlights of Emancipation Day events held throughout Suriname. Many people also share stories with the younger generation that narrate the experiences of their forefathers who were slaves to emphasize the importance and value of freedom.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Observed by:General Public Observed on:November 25 On November 25, 1975, Suriname obtained independence from the Netherlands and declared itself a republic. Suriname was a Dutch colony that had been called Netherlands Guiana since its occupation by the Dutch in the 1600s. In 1799 British forces occupied the region when Napoleon conquered the Kingdom of Netherlands during the Napoleonic Wars. However, after an Anglo-Dutch Treaty was signed between Britain and the Netherlands in 1816, Suriname once again became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and remained a Dutch colony until its independence on November 25, 1975, after peaceful negotiations between the Surinamese and the Dutch government.

Independence Day celebrations are held throughout the country, but the biggest displays take place in the capital city of Paramaribo. The president of the country unfurls the national flag and presides over the celebrations and military parades. He also hosts a dinner for foreign dignitaries who attend the Independence Day celebrations. Cultural events such as folk dances, folk songs, and folk theater are integral parts of the celebrations.

BOXING DAY

Observed by:General Public Observed on:December 26 Boxing Day, also observed as St. Stephen’s Day by Catholics, is celebrated on the day after Christmas on December 26. There are several accounts to explain this tradition. In one version, Boxing Day was first celebrated as the day when Catholic churches opened the alms boxes used to collect money for charitable purposes and distributed the contents to the poor of the parishes. Another version states that, because the household staff in the United Kingdom worked on Christmas Day, they were given the day off on December 26 to celebrate with their friends and families. As the staff was leaving, their masters would put money in boxes and present the boxes to them.

Most of the countries that were once under British rule observe this holiday. Suriname is among them, because it was under British rule for a brief period between 1799 and 1816.

Locally, December 26 is also known as tweede kerstdag (the second day of Christmas). The Surinamese visit family members, friends, and neighbors on this day and exchange gifts and greetings as well.

See also Volume III: BOXINGDAY; CHRISTIAN-

ITY; CHRISTMAS

self god and banned worship of any Hindu deities. However, his young son Prahlad was an ardent worshipper of Lord Vishnu (the second member of the Hindu Trinity, the caretaker of the universe) and, although he respected his father, he refused to worship him. This angered Hiranyakashyap, who then passed a death sentence on his own son. However, his attempts to kill his son failed because Lord Vishnu came to Prahlad’s rescue each time. Eventually Hiranyakashyap sought the assistance of his sister Holika. She had been granted a boon by Lord Brahma that protected her against fire. But Lord Brahma had also warned her that if she used this boon for evil purposes the fire would destroy her.

Holika did not pay attention to Brahma’s warning and decided to use her boon to help her brother get rid of Prahlad. On a full Moon night in the month of spring, Holika sat on a pyre with Prahlad in her lap and asked Hiranyakashyap’s soldiers to set the pyre on fire. Lord Vishnu’s blessings protected Prahlad, and he escaped unhurt, but Holika perished in the flames. Holi is celebrated among the Hindus as the victory of good over evil.

On the night before Holi, a huge bonfire is lit (symbolic of the burning of Holika), and devotees sing traditional songs while moving around the bonfire in circles. On Holi Surinamese Hindus wish each other “Shubh Holi” (“Good Holi”) or “Holi Mubarak” (“Happy Holi”) and throw colored powder, water, and even balloons filled with water on each other. They distribute sweets among their neighbors on this day and sing traditional songs. Non-Hindus also join in the celebrations

See also Volume III: HINDUISM; HOLI

Religious Holidays

HOLI

Observed by:Hindus Observed on: Full Moon day in Phalguna (or Falgun), the 12th month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar Holi, the Festival of Colors or Phagwah (also Fagwah), is an annual Hindu spring festival that is celebrated over a two-day period in either March or April of the Gregorian calendar. It is the most exciting Hindu festival and is also called the Festival of Colors because people throw colored paper and water on each other as part of their celebrations.

The origin of the festival can be traced to Hindu mythology. A demon king named Hiranyakashyap was granted a boon by Lord Brahma (one of the Hindu Trinity, the creator of the universe) that made him almost invincible. Assuming he would never be killed and would live for eternity, he proclaimed him-

PALM SUNDAY

Observed by:Christians Observed on:Last Sunday before Easter Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent and the first day of Holy Week, commemorating the last week of Jesus’ mortal life. Jesus Christ was the prophet of Christianity, and Christians believe him to be the second person of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The day is as much about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as it is about the beginning of his journey to the Cross. His arrival in Jerusalem was indeed the way to the Cross.

After two of his disciples had fetched a donkey for him to ride, they placed their clothes on it to make a comfortable seat. The disciples then cut branches and covered the path, and Jesus rode into Jerusalem, fulfilling the prediction of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah. People welcomed him by waving palm and olive branches and strewed garments and branches on the road. There were different perceptions at work: Jesus rode in on a donkey,

the humble entry of a peaceful nature by a spiritual king; the people of Jerusalem welcomed him with palm and olive branches and the laying of garments in his path because they wanted a worldly king to defeat the Romans.

See also Volume III: CHRISTIANITY; EASTER;

HOLYWEEK; LENT; PALM SUNDAY; SPRING FESTIVALS

MAUNDY THURSDAY

Observed by:Roman Catholics Observed on:Last Thursday before Easter The rituals observed on Maundy Thursday are based on a sequence of events supposed to have occurred during the final meal on this day. First Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; then he announced that he had been betrayed by one of them. The traitor Judas left the table. Finally Jesus instituted the Eucharist: a ritual of consuming bread and wine as symbols of his body and blood, also referred to as Communion in Christian churches. In the Roman Catholic Church, Maundy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week, and gives priests an opportunity to prepare for the many rituals associated with Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter. The name Maundy Thursday may be linked to the Latin word mandatum, “command,” because Jesus commanded his Apostles to observe the ritual now called the Eucharist.

See also Volume III: CHRISTIANITY; EASTER;

HOLYWEEK; LENT; MAUNDY THURSDAY; SPRING FESTIVALS

GOOD FRIDAY

Observed by:Christians Observed on:Friday before Easter Good Friday falls on the Friday before Easter and is the last Friday of Lent. It is observed in most parts of the world to remember the Crucifixion of Jesus. Some Surinamese observe a fast from Ash Wednesday (first day of Lent), for 40 days up to Good Friday and a partial fast from then until Easter. Some fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In Suriname on Good Friday, people visit their local churches and pray to Jesus, taking inspiration from his life and teachings.

See also Volume III: CHRISTIANITY; EASTER;

GOOD FRIDAY; HOLYWEEK; LENT; SPRING FESTIVALS

HOLY SATURDAY

Observed by:Christians Observed on: Saturday before Easter Holy Saturday is the day Jesus lay in the tomb. This was the Sabbath (the Jewish day of rest is Saturday),

and he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. It is also regarded as the second Sabbath after Creation. The final day of Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday and includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, it marks the threshold between death and Resurrection, and is a day of silence and contemplation for devout Christians.

See also Volume III: CHRISTIANITY; EASTER;

GOOD FRIDAY; HOLY SATURDAY; HOLY WEEK; LENT; MAUNDYTHURSDAY; PALM SUNDAY; SPRING FESTIVALS

EASTER

Observed by:Christians Observed on:First Sunday after Lent Easter is celebrated to mark Jesus’ Resurrection. For this reason it is sometimes known as Resurrection Day. This day is of utmost importance because the fundamental teaching of Christianity is that Jesus, through his death, freed all his believers from the penalty of sin. It falls on the first Sunday after Lent and is celebrated by Christians the world over. On Easter entire families gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. They often buy new clothes for this special day and go to church to offer prayers. Easter eggs have become associated with the festival because they are symbols of rebirth and regeneration taken from the ancient pagan spring festivals. In Suriname people attend midnight prayer services for Easter and celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection by lighting candles. A festive spirit fills the churches as people sing devotional hymns. Surinamese exchange beautifully decorated Easter eggs and visit friends and family members.

The first Monday after Lent is celebrated as Easter Monday.

See also Volume III: CHRISTIANITY; EASTER;

HOLYWEEK; LENT; SPRINGFESTIVALS

EID AL-FITR

Observed by:Muslims Observed on:First of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim Feast of Fast-Breaking, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of much-awaited festivities. Muslims all over the world observe a strict, month-long, sunrise to sunset fast during the holy month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fast and abstinence. On this day Muslims in Suriname wake up early in the morning and attend local mosques to offer prayers to Allah on this auspicious day. They thank Allah for his benevolence and exchange greetings.

All Surinamese Muslims distribute food, money, or clothing among the poor and needy on this day. Muslims visit their friends and family members and are also greeted by non-Muslims on this day. Chil-

dren receive gifts and money from their elders and feast on sweets and candies. The Koran forbids fasting on this day. See also Volume III: EID AL-FITR; ISLAM;

RAMADAN

CHRISTMAS

Observed by:Christians Observed on:December 25 Christmas is a day of great joy for Christians all over the world, because it is the day chosen by the Catholic Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom they believe was the Son of God. Christmas celebrations in Suriname begin on December 6, when children wait for Goedoe Pa (“Dearest Daddy,” or the Surinamese Santa Claus) to give them presents. Post-independence, children in Suriname are taught that Goedoe Pa is a black man who, along with his black servants, travels throughout Suriname and delivers presents to children if they have behaved well in the past year. Children leave cookies and milk for Goedoe Pa and his servants, and in the morning they find gifts with poems attached to them.

During Dutch rule the legend of Sinterklaas, or Santa Claus, was very much a part of Surinamese culture and a white man dressed as Santa Claus greeted young children and distributed gifts. Children were told that Sinterklaas had a host of black servants who worked for him. However, in an attempt to create a sense of pride among the ethnic black Surinamese, the story was modified, and Goedoe Pa replaced Sinterklaas, although the essence of the celebration remains the same.

On Christmas Eve the Surinamese decorate their Christmas trees and place the presents underneath. Catholic families attend a midnight services and then a special Christmas Mass on Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. On Christmas Day children open their presents and dine on Christmas cakes, sweets, and candies. Also, friends, neighbors, and relatives join in the celebrations, and gifts and greetings are exchanged. Special Christmas parties are also held, and Surinamese Christians and non-Christians celebrate Christmas as a united community.

See also Volume III: CHRISTIANITY; CHRISTMAS

Regional Holidays

MISS ALIDA BEAUTY PAGEANT

Observed in:Paramaribo Observed by:General Public Observed on: June 30 The Miss Alida Beauty Pageant is an annual AfricanSurinamese cultural event that takes place on June

30, a day before Emancipation Day, in the capital city of Paramaribo.

The event is dedicated to the memory of a Maroon girl named Alida, who was extremely beautiful. (A Maroon was a fugitive black slave in the West Indies in the 17th and 18th centuries, or the descendant of such a slave.) While working as a slave in the house of a white owner, her beauty caught the attention of the white man. But the jealous white mistress of the house could not stand the insult of being compared to a black slave girl and killed Alida brutally. After independence, a beauty pageant was started in honor of Alida and was aptly named the Miss Alida Beauty Pageant.

Every year African-Surinamese women participate in the pageant. They are judged by a panel of experts based on their dancing skill, creativity in designing a traditional dress, and storytelling skills.

Rites of Passage

BIRTH

In Suriname among ethnic tribes the name of the child is based on the time of birth, the circumstances during birth, and even the place of birth. Also many people name their children after their ancestors to honor them. They believe that, in this manner, their beloved ancestor has come again to live among them as the child.

COMING OF AGE

Bigi jari is a Surinamese ritual that takes place when a person reaches an age that ends with a 0 or a 5 (for example, 10, 20, 25, 35, and so on). Bigi jari is a big party thrown by the birthday person on reaching particular ages; all friends and family members are invited. Feasting, singing, and dancing are part of the celebrations, and guests bring birthday presents and flowers for the birthday person.

Among the descendants of the Javanese Muslims of Suriname, when a boy reaches puberty he has to undergo the ritual of circumcision. This ritual is considered important as it helps the boy complete his transition from boyhood to manhood.

Further Reading

Rosemarijn Hoefte and Peter Meel, eds., TwentiethCentury Suriname: Continuities and Discontinuities in a New World Society (Kingston, Jamaica, W.I.: Ian Randle Publishers, 2001); Bettina Migge, Creole Formation as Language Contact: The Case of the Suriname Creoles (Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2003); Mark Plotkin, Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest (New York: Viking Penguin, 1993); Richard Price and Sally Price, Afro-American Arts of the Suriname Rain Forest. (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1981);

Michiel van Kempen, Deep-Rooted Words: Ten Storytellers and Writers from Surinam, Sam Garrett, Trans. (Amsterdam: Voetnoot, 1992); Hue Thoden van Velz and W. van Wetering, In the Shadow of the Oracle: Religion as Politics in a Suriname Maroon Society (Long

Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press, 2004) A. H. Versteeg and F.C. Bubberman, Suriname before Columbus (Paramaribo, Suriname: Mededelingen Stichting Surinaams Museum 49A, 1992—updated Internet version, 1998).

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