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Bamboo - traditions and use in Grenada

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Have you ever seen a piece of bamboo? Bamboo can be found in the hillsides in Grenada, and it is used for various purposes including traditions.

What is bamboo?

Bamboo is a tall grass like plant that grows well in tropical areas. Bamboo can be found in the hillsides and forested areas of Grenada. Bamboo can be seen vividly when passing along the Grand Etang road from St. Andrew's to St. George's.

Photo: bamboo

What is bamboo used for in Grenada?

The use of bamboo within the Grenadian way of life and culture dates back to early post-emancipation days. African drums were banned and newly freed slaves were unable to drum and practice their culture. Therefore, bamboo was used to create the sounds for music including music played for Carnival. Bamboo became a musical instrument and men used bamboo to create tambu-bamboo bands. Tambu-bamboo bands would parade the streets during Carnival, knocking long bamboo sticks against the ground to create musical sounds. Eventually, steel pan was introduced, and this replaced tambu-bamboo bands.

Today, bamboo is used in construction especially the building of houses where bamboo is used to make natural scaffolding. Bamboo can also be seen used in the décor of bars and shops across the island, whether it is counter tops of bars or the entire bar structure. Bamboo is also used to make eco-friendly furniture, that can be found in some hotels, and beaches.

What traditions are associated with bamboo?

One popular tradition associated with bamboo is done close to and during the Christmas season. This tradition is called "bursting bamboo". It is popular among young boys in villages. Bursting of bamboo creates loud sounds that permeate the village and surrounding communities.

To burst bamboo, a hole is first made at the top of the bamboo, and kerosene is poured inside of the bamboo. The other end of the bamboo is left closed. The bamboo is then lit with a flambeau while blowing on the flame. The result is loud sounds or bursting of the bamboo.

Here is a video that displays the bursting of the bamboo:

Source: Shaun Archibald

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