Divali Nagar has now become the eternal flagship of Hinduism and Indian culture of various strains in the Caribbean
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, patrons will not be shortchanged during the nine-day razzmatazz set to begin on October 26 in Trinidad and Tobago’s Divali Nagar - City of Divali, the Hindu festival of lights. The annual exposition, broadly of Hindu culture, and specifically Indo-Trinidadian culture, at the country’s largest and fastest-growing city Chaguanas, is associated with the celebration of Diwali in Trinidad and Tobago, the dual-island Caribbean nation.
The Divali Nagar, started in 1986 by the National Council for Indian Culture (NCIC) with the aim of having a site for the national community to participate in Divali, has now achieved not only national but Caribbean wide and international support and participation from India, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean which are represented on the Nagar’s stage every night.
Prior to the establishment of the Nagar, Divali was celebrated mainly at private homes and in villages with a strong Hindu presence. It was held for the first time at the Mid Centre Mall’s car park and shifted to its current location at Narsaloo Ramaya Marg Road in 1991.
According to NCIC public relations officer Surujdeo Mangaroo, Divali Nagar has now become the eternal flagship of Hinduism and Indian culture of various strains in the Caribbean as it is now, “an international showcase, and we in Trinidad and Tobago are justly proud of its presence in the cultural mosaic as it enhances the spirit of cultural diversity and promotes the whole concept of multiculturalism”.
“Divali Nagar remains a monumental socio-cultural, religious demonstration of the minds of great thinkers and philosophers aimed at enriching human civilization, and it is now left to our generation, and succeeding ones to ensure that it continues as the eternal flame of truth at all times,” Mangaroo said.
On the opening night, prayers will be recited by Pandit Abhedanand Persad Sharma while Minister of Tourism and the Arts Randall Mitchell will address the gathering.
Pre-recorded addresses are projected to come from TT’s President Paula Mae-Weekes, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and His Worship, the Mayor of Chaguanas, Faaiq Mohammed.
The event will feature some of the country’s top entertainers: the Bollywood Dance Group, Shiv Shakti School of Music, Dubraj Persad, Susan Mohip, Sunanda Mohip, Nisha Ramkissoon, Shri Krishen Chowtal Chowtal group, Jairaj Singh, Victoria Amrita Maharaj and Sasha Priya Ramoutar.
The youth championship and dance finals are among a host of other cultural personalities.
Mangaroo pointed out that ”pandemic or no pandemic, the nightly shows will capture the national and international imagination. The show will be aired by several local television outfits, Facebook and NCIC’s YouTube Channel.
“Since, you, our valued audience, will not be able to locate yourselves at the actual Divali Nagar Facility, Charlieville, Chaguanas, you will be able to view it on the media. It is hoped that the year 2022, will bring a new dimension and that the public open shows will become a reality once more again,” he said.
The land for the Divali Nagar was granted to the NCIC by TT’s National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) government in 1989. The Divali Nagar site is currently 27 acres.
The Divali Nagar is the flagship project of the NCIC and has an annual theme that is taken from different aspects of Hinduism. A range of items are also sold at the Divali Nagar including Indian clothing, Divali supplies and Indian and Indo-Trinidadian food. with the passing years, it has emerged as a local tourism event that attracted approximately 150,000 people over the nine-night period in 2019.
(The writer is an Indian-origin journalist based in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The views are personal. He can be contacted at email@example.com)