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Hindu Community in Trinidad celebrates Diwali, the Annual Festival of Lights

Trinidad has been officially celebrating the Diwali holiday since 1966

Diya on Diwali, Pixabay

– 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.

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“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)

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean