Port-of-Spain: Trinidad’s Divali Nagar which opens with the theme, “Hindu Symbolism” is a highly misunderstood concept used by antagonists to degrade and ridicule Hinduism, according to DrDeokienanan Sharma, president of the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC).
Dr Sharma underlined this point while delivering the opening address at the nine-day festival which started on Monday Oct. 9 to Tuesday Oct. 17. The projected cost will hover around five million TT dollars.Divali remains a public holiday since 1966.
“All religions have their symbols, often more than one. These may be visual like the Cross, or auricular like OM. They may represent God as Power like the Shiva Linga, or point out the perfection as in thecase of the Dharmacharka of Buddhism or the Crucifix,” quoting from Swami Harshananda’s book, “Powerful Symbols of World Religion”
Dr Sharma noted that it is very difficult for the common man to understand the declarations and teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads and other religious texts. Symbolism has therefore, been developed to overcome these difficulties and give to the common man howto interpret these teachings.
“Thirty one years have now gone by and Divali Nagar has established itself as the flagship project not only of the NCIC, but the premier cultural form of the Indo-Trinidadian. It has continued to present the best of the culture in nine-days of programs both folk and contemporary, and other traditions that are second to none. It is a meeting place where the projected figure is 100,000 patrons from all parts of the globe, including India, USA, Canada and England, in a safe an environment as could be possible and in an atmosphere devoid of one of the great social ills, alcoholism,” he told thousands of patrons worldwide through television, radio and other modern forms of communications.
Dr Sharma said that one of the ways in which Divali Nagar has undertaken to educate and inform is through an exhibition mounted at the Festival. “Divali Nagar selects a different theme each year, and team of researchers led by Baba SatnarayanMourya of Mumbai, India, several months prior to the actual festival. The team led by Baba has, over the years, produced some stunning and very informative displays on the selected theme and continues to do as well will view during Divali Nagar 2017.”
This year, a noted Hindu leader as the Chief Guest wasParamacharya Pt. HardeoPersad, Spiritual Head of SWAHA International. Over the many years, note-worthy individuals both at home and abroad are honoured by the NCIC for their contribution to the economic, cultural, political and social empowerment of the nation, and by extension to World Hinduism.
Dr Sharma continued: “This year marks a significant occasion as it commemorates the centenary of the end of Indian Indentureship, 1917-2017. Through all hardships and suffering endured during the period of indenture and beyond, the East Indians have steadfastly stuck to their cultural traditions and can today boast of a very vibrant and ever-growing culture which they seek to preserve far into the forseeable future. In this regard, the efforts of all organizations involved in the teaching, preservation and promoting of Indian culture must be applauded and recognized.
Dr Sharma said that one of the aims of Divali Nagar in multi-cultural Trinidad and Tobago is to bring to the fore the culture of the East Indian descendants of the indenture showcase its very rich and meaningful traditions, thereby informing and educating the masses on the various aspects of Indo-Trinbagonian culture.
Pundit HardeoPersad, in his acceptance speech upon receiving the scroll, painting and the book highlighting the work of the NCIC, expressed his deepest gratitude to the NCIC and its Management Committee. Pundit Persad further elucidated the on Hindu concept of symbolism, referring to the several major Hindu religious literature on the existence of Mother Laskhmi in Her several forms, and who remains the focus atDivali, the Festival of Lights.
President of the Republic, Anthony Carmona and former Prime Minister and now Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. KamlaPersad-Bissessar were in attendance.
Scores of the nation’s top Indian cultural performers and activists such as T&TEC Gayatones which featured CapilGayadeen, Rishi Gayadeen, Nadia Madhoo, Anil Bheem, IndarKanhai, NirmalaSesnarayan thrilled the thousands of patrons each night.
One of the major highlights was the International Miss NCIC DivaliNagat Queen Pageant where SeemaMoonilal, Hama Ramoutar, NeermalaRagoonanan, SuvinaSmolsky, AshwitaWanishkaBachoe(Suriname) RaveenaNandlal, AmishaLulkool, NavinaMisir, ShaennaGilharry(Belize) and Jeanique Baxter(Jamaica).
And of similar importance was the Grand Finals of the NCIC Dance Competition which featured:ShivTandava Dance Group, Tridevi Dance group, Vedanta Suraj&AshaMaharaj, Karan Rampersad, PriyaPersad, NrityaSangam Dance Group, Amritam Shakti Dance Group, Bollywood Dance Academy, Kiss Natraj Dance Group and Khalnayak Dance Academy.
After that blissful, entertaining and imaginative Divali Nagar 2017, patrons await Divali Nagar 2018.
(ParasRamoutar can be contacted at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Source: World Hindu News (WHN)