– by Paras Ramoutar
Port of Spain, October 30, 2016: Trinidad was lit up on Saturday night as the Hindu community celebrated Diwali, the annual festival of lights, across the country.
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For the past several days, there were celebrations at government offices including the official residence of Prime Minister Keith Rowley.
In an address, President Anthony Carmona noted that Diwali was another opportunity to bring about unity.
“We need to eradicate the social negatives of crime and sometimes our racial and political intolerance and disharmony. The celebration of Diwali is but one strong example of the religious harmony and unity that exist in our country. The key is for us to ensure that this harmony continues beyond Diwali festivities,” President Carmona added.
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Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called on the people to drive away darkness with light.
“The enemies we seek to banish are hate, betrayal, jealousy, greed, lust, sickness and mental decay,” Bissessar said.
Newly-accredited Indian High Commissioner Bishwadip Dey said Diwali “gives us an expression of happiness and a sense of attainment. As we light rows of diyas, it is believed we attain good health, wealth, knowledge, peace and happiness. Darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge.”
One of the highlights of this year’s ‘Diwali Nagar’ was the opening of a booth by the Indian High Commission which attracted thousands of patrons seeking information on visas, Know India Programme, non-resident Indian and person of Indian-origin cards, and this was the first by any diplomatic mission here.
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India’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Villas Paswan, who was visiting Trinidad, addressed the assembly on Wednesday night.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran said that Diwali is a moment for “spiritual renewal of mankind”, as spirituality in the world is on the downward spiral.
“Diwali must counteract this decline with urgency.”
The Indian diaspora here comprises descendants of some 148,000 people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, brought here by the then British rulers between 1845 and 1917 to work on enhancing local agricultural capacity.
The Indian diaspora now forms some 42 percent of the 1.3 million population of Trinidad and Tobago. (IANS)