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Trinidad and Tobago showcases Indo-Trinidadian culture at Divali Nagar 2022

Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell, said that Divali Nagar has made citizens more aware of the tradition associated with Hinduism and East Indian culture.

Paras Ramoutar Oct 27, 2022
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Trinidad and Tobago showcases Indo-Trinidadian culture at Divali Nagar 2022

An alluring array of food delights is available at the annual Divali Nagar from Saturday, October 15 to Sunday, October 23, 2022, as Trinidad and Tobago joined the world in the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, on October 24, a public holiday here since 1966.

The theme of this year’s Nagar was “Hindu Panth”, meaning the many denominations of Hinduism. During the nine nights festival, the main auditorium of Divali Nagar more than 100,000 patrons were thrilled with the superb performances of such distinguished cultural and religious groups like the Amritan Shakti Dance Group, Amba De Silva, Bollywood Dances, Shivannand Maharaj, Narendra Maharaj, Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation, Nritya Sangam Dance, Councillor Dubraj Persad, Sylvan Bharat Tassa Group, Sri Rana Mohip and Susan Mohip. The list continues as the best such groups engaged the attention of the mass crowds.

In her feature address, Trinidad and Tobago President Paula Mae-Weekes said, “It is a sensory experience, one that cannot be fully and faithfully replicated through a television or computer screen, particularly for first timers, saying  that the tradition and preserve the culture of the East Indian indentured labourers who first came to Trinidad and Tobago.”

She continued: “This dazzling city of lights is much more than simply a diverting family outing. It’s a medium for creating and strengthening traditions and ensuring that patrons, both young and old, are given a glimpse into the experiences and challenges of the intrepid voyages who landed on our shores some 177 years ago with their rituals and ways of life”.

“The national showcase of the Nagar is much more a tribute to them as it is a reaffirmation of the religious belief that fortified and kept them going through seasons of difficulty”, adding that in Divali there was the core lesson of good triumphing over evil. 

Celebrating Hinduism's diversity

Pandit Dr Rampersad Parasram, the first chairman of Divali Nagar in October 1986, noted that Hinduism has always embraced the idea of one diverse family and its very democratic nature must make the imposition of one set of values and practices upon others unacceptable.

“In Trinidad and Tobago, the Hindu community reflects these thousands of years of evolution of Hinduism along the lines previously mentioned, and we happily have many sects such as Sanatanists, Kabir Panths, Arya Samajists, Shiv Narayanis among others, living in relative peace and harmony. People belonging to different sects and different gurus are often members of the same extended family”, he said.

Parasram said in spite of occasional outbursts from zealous reformers and bigots, who have tried to impose their views and ways upon others, and in spite of conversion and denigration of some Hindu practices through overt and covert means, we have, in Trinidad and Tobago, by and large, maintained healthy acceptance of all Hindu sects, and together we make a strong, vibrant and diverse Hindu community that continues to grow stronger, in spite of the many challenges it as had to, and continues to face.

Outgoing president Dr Deokienanan Sharma noted that despite the non-recognition of Indo-Trinidadian culture in the early years of Independence, cultural persistence by organizations such as the NCIC has seen to it that Indian culture has grown and flourished and grudgingly accepted now as part of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago, where over 40 per cent of the 1.3 million population is of Indian origin.

Triumph of Indian diaspora 

Dr Sharma had served the organization for some 52 years.

Sahadeo Partap, chairman of the Organizing Committee,  hailed the volunteerism which has become the hallmark of Divali Nagar over the last 34 years and hailed it as a triumph for the Indian diaspora.

Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar said when she became prime minister again she would take the initiative to promote Divali Nagar as a major tourism project of the Caribbean nation.

Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell, said that Divali Nagar has made citizens more aware of the tradition associated with Hinduism and East Indian culture. 

(The author is a Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago-based journalist.)

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