Colourful fireworks ornamented the skyline and millions of diyas, or earthen lamps, flickered in homes as people of Indian origin in Trinidad and Tobago celebrated Diwali – the 164th year of the Hindu festival since Indian emigrants arrived in the country to work on plantations. The festival day was a public holiday, a decision taken in 1966.
Diwali is the most beautiful of the many Hindu festivals for the Indians who arrived between 1845 and 1917 to work on the sugar plantations from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The other Hindu festivals celebrated are Nau Raatri, Ram Leela, Kartick-Ne-Nahan, Shiv Ratri, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi and Ram Navami.
Several government ministries and departments, state agencies/corporations and major multi-national corporations hosted mammoth Diwali celebrations – lighting up diyas in the promenades, offices, streets and make-shift monuments of bamboo. The President of Trinidad and Tobago, Prof. Maxwell Richards, in a Diwali message, called for the removal of “negative emotions that tend to imprison us in our relations with one another”. He called for goodwill, respect towards all and hoped for a better society and people which would symbolise the true meaning of Diwali.