In T&T, the month of December is dedicated to Christmas. Although there is no unanimity amongst Christians that Jesus was born on December 25, the western world has, over the centuries, established religious, commercial and cultural events that form part of this national celebration.
In multi-cultural and multi-religious T&T, we Hindus have established our own annual cycle of religious and cultural observances. We form part of the Christmas celebrations but at the same time, we observe certain of our own religious practices that have been brought by our ancestors who came from India to Trinidad as indentured labourers, beginning in 1845.
For more than 30 years, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and its Pundits’ Parishad dedicate one Sunday every December, and the entire day chanting what we regard as the most powerful mantra in all of Hinduism: the Gayatri Mantra. A mantra is a word or string of words, when repeated, become an aid to concentration to devotees in meditation. Mantra is a Sanskrit word that signifies a sacred utterance that has psychological and spiritual power.
On December 15, more than 150 pundits participated in a 12–hour-long repetition of the Gayatri Mantra. The venue was the specially constructed Gayatri Mandir on the grounds of the headquarters of the Maha Sabha at St Augustine; this structure is unique in its design and construction.