An innovative fusion of modern East Indian and Caribbean cooking celebrating St Lucia's historical & cultural ties with East India
Apsara is the name for a Hindu deity best described as a celestial courtesan, a divine beauty entertaining the gods. Our Helen of the West meets the Angel of the East.
Located directly on the Anse Chastanet beach on St.Lucia's Caribbean coast near Soufriere, APSARA is part of the world renowned Anse Chastanet Resort. APSARA is an innovative fusion of modern East Indian and Caribbean cooking, a celebration of St Lucia's historical and cultural ties with East India.
St. Lucia’s society today is an exotic melange of many different ethnic origins, including also East Indian.
With the ending of slavery in 1838 ahead of them, planters everywhere in the West Indies began to look for another source of affordable labour to work their estates. They found this in south-east Asia.
Between 1845 and 1917, hundreds of thousands of indentured workers sailed from India to the Caribbean. Most went to Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica - but some six thousand set foot on shore in St. Lucia. Just over 1,600 people arrived here between 1856 and 1865 and another 4,427 East Indians sailed to St. Lucia between 1878 and 1893. They probably came from the regions of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in Northern India.
By 1891, there were some 2,500 East Indians in St. Lucia, in a total population of 42,220. By 1897, the last Indians finished their labour contracts. Some chose to return to India, others remained in St. Lucia, either by their free will or out of necessity. By the turn of the century, St. Lucia had a free East Indian population of 2,560 persons.
Migration of indentured labourers to St. Lucia was never very great but due to the island’s low population density and their uneven distribution throughout the island, East Indians gained a fairly high profile in the ethnic make-up of the island. Indian communities sprang up primarily around the central sugar factories that dominated St. Lucia’s economy until the 1950’s. Music, rites such as the Festival of Lights (Divali) and some culinary and cultural traditions remain today at a time when East Indians are already seven generations or more removed from the place where their ancestors originated from. Welcome to Apsara - our culinary fusion of St. Lucia and India.
Freely adapted from Jolien Harmsen. Jolien Harmsen holds a Ph.D in Caribbean History. She is the author of ‘Sugar, slavery and settlement. A social history of Vieux Fort, St. Lucia, from the Amerindians to the present” (St. Lucia National Trust, 1999).