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The Tradition of Parang

Parang, a unique music tradition originating from Trinidad and Tobago, is closely associated with the Christmas season and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the Trinidadian and Tobagonian community in Canada. The upcoming 2023 Parang performance at the Twilight Family Restaurant and Bar, located at 55 Nugget Ave., Scarborough, represents a cherished and vibrant tradition within the Canadian multicultural landscape.

History of Parang:

Parang has its roots in Spanish and Venezuelan folk music and was brought to Trinidad and Tobago by Spanish colonizers in the 18th century. Over time, it evolved into a distinct and cherished form of Trinidadian music with a mix of Spanish, African, and East Indian influences. The word "Parang" itself is derived from the Spanish "parranda," which means a social gathering or spree.

The traditional Parang ensemble typically features instruments such as the cuatro (a small guitar), maracas, box bass, and guitars. The lyrics often tell stories of Christmas, love, and daily life, and the melodies are characterized by lively rhythms and harmonious melodies.

Parang in Canada:

The practice of Parang in Canada is a testament to the vibrant multicultural mosaic of the country. The Trinidadian and Tobagonian community in Canada, particularly in cities like Toronto and Scarborough, has preserved and promoted this cherished tradition, keeping it alive across generations. Here's how Parang is practised in Canada:

  1. Community Gatherings: Canadian Parang enthusiasts come together during the Christmas season to celebrate their cultural heritage. Local restaurants, bars, and community centres host Parang events and performances, providing a platform for talented musicians and singers to showcase their skills.

  2. Cultural Preservation: Parang is not only about music but also about preserving the rich heritage and traditions of Trinidad and Tobago. In Canada, the Trinidadian and Tobagonian community takes pride in passing down this cultural legacy to the younger generations, ensuring that the music, lyrics, and traditions are upheld.

  3. Fusion and Adaptation: While traditional Parang remains the core of the celebration, musicians in Canada have also experimented with fusion, blending Parang with other musical genres. This fusion adds a contemporary twist to the music, making it more appealing to a wider audience.

  4. Christmas Celebrations: Parang is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the Trinidadian and Tobagonian communities in Canada. It is not uncommon to hear Parang music in homes, at parties, and during the community's Christmas events.

  5. Family and Food: Parang gatherings often include family and friends coming together to enjoy the music, dance, and delicious Trinidadian and Tobagonian cuisine. Traditional dishes like pastelles (a type of tamale), black cake, and sorrel are often enjoyed during these celebrations.

  6. Educational Initiatives: Many community organizations and cultural groups in Canada take the initiative to educate the broader Canadian population about Parang and its significance. This includes organizing workshops, lectures, and demonstrations to promote cross-cultural understanding.

by Anthony Berot

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