Trinidad celebrates Diwali with fervor, engagement with the national citizenry: Paras Ramoutar

Port-of-Spain: Trinidad and Tobago was alight with  thousands of deyas as the nation observed the 174 Divali celebration on Sunday(October 27) night. From the smallest hamlet to the semi and urban centres to the major cities  were all ablaze. Sunday night’s celebration culminated with several weeks and days of preparations staging religious services, private and open air programmes.

former Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called on the national citizenry to hold on to the “universal message of the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair.”

Now Opposition Leader in this twin-island republic, Persad-Bissessar said Divali teaches about the importance of “transcending negative tendencies” such as greed, anger, hatred, pride – qualities which can “plunge the soul into darkness and lives into unhappiness.”

She added  said the deya also teaches about the “unity of purpose.One deya may not be able to light the night sky but when these earthen lamps come together in unison, they produce a sight that brightens the darkest of nights.”

“It is so too that we, as a people, in our beloved nation, must unite to overcome the darkness that is plaguing our nation. We must understand that regardless of our social, economic, educational, ethnic or religious backgrounds, we are all blessed with unique individual talents which can be used hand in hand to rebuild our nation, she said”.

Persad-Bissessar noted that there is no doubt that our nation is facing darkness which it has never encountered before.” Today, darkness exists in the lives of the thousands without jobs, the thousands who cannot put food on the table or send their children to school, and those who have lost loved ones to crime.”

She said even though the nation may feel that darkness is enveloping the land, the deya “serves as a powerful symbol of hope. When one deya is lit it shines brightly; when another one is lit, it adds to the flame of the other to provide more illumination”.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in his message, noted that Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most successful multi-cultural and multi-religious societies in the world, citing the great Hindu texts as the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagvad Gita translating similar messages like Christianity and Islam.

Dr Rowley hopes that religious observances like Divali would eliminate  polarisation and replace it with engagement.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and now Professor of Practice, |Winston Dookeran, said that the celebration of Divali could be fully executed by all sectors of the society, “to create a new society”.

He pontificated that the Hindu festival of Divali could become a catalystic tool as another foundation block to a strong and peaceful society.

“Divali is one the hallmarks of the Indian diaspora, not only in our country, but worldwide. We must never forget the immortal message, thought and philosophy that Divali shares with the world society, even without some of us acknowledging its eminence and strength and direction,” Dookeran who was awarded the Order of Trinidad and Tobago(ORTT), this nation’s highest award. He was also awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samellan (PBS) award from the Government of India.

Despite the spiralling crime rate and mass joblessness in this twin-island nation of 1.4 million people, of whom 44 per cent are of East Indian stock whose forefathers were brought here from India between 1845 and 1917, some 148,000 to help restore a decaying agricultural economy, Divali celebration was held great  reverence and solemnity as it has now become a national festival, and was declared a public holiday in 1966.

One of the highlights for 33 years now is the annual Divali Nagar which has captured the national and international imagination where people from several countries such as India, England, Canada, Holland, USA and the Caribbean come to visit as a national pilgrimage.   The theme of this year’s Divali was focus on the great religious on Hinduism and Hindu Thought, according to Dr Deokienanan Sharma, president the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC). The Indian High Commission was among 80 booths represented at the Nagar, which attracted over 150, 000 patrons over its nine-night celebration.

In addition to religious ceremonies, there were a vast array of cultural programmes featuring songs, music, dance, dramas, paintings and exhibitions, all representative of the Indian diaspora, according to Surujdeo Mangaroo, public relations officer. “This year’s celebration was carefully packaged with inputs and participation from several performers from the global diaspora”, he added.

While confirming that President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency, Paula Mae-Weekes, Opposition Leader, Kamla Persadd Bissessar, and newly-appointed High Commssioner, K. K. Sahu attended, all of whom addressed the assembly, no government official or minister including the Prime Minister, attended, all of  whom were specifically invited. It reported that Prime Minister Rowley preferred to attend his 70th birthday party.

The people of Trinidad and Tobago, and patrons from across  the globe look forward to another successful Divali Nagar 2020.

Source: World Hindu News