It is once again time for the largest Hindu festival in Trinidad & Tobago, Divali or the Festival of Lights. This year’s event, held November 5, 2010, will be commemorated with colorful events and extravagant light displays.
With a population that is approximately 40 percent from Indian origin, the twin-island country has celebrated Divali officially since 1966, joining in the celebrations held in India and around the globe. In the multi-ethnic, multi-religious Trinidadian society, it is celebrated as a national holiday by people of all denominations. Divali represents the triumph of light over darkness, signified by lighting deyas (small clay lamps) on what is believed to be the darkest night of the year. Hindus celebrate Divali with a host of activities in the home where various dishes and sweets are prepared and a Pooja (prayer) is performed. At dusk, everyone joins in lighting and placing the deyas around the home. The sacred festival is known to bring about positive feelings in the community and is marked by unity, cleanliness, harmony and festivity.
Divali celebrations in Trinidad begin nine days before the actual event. The hub of all Divali celebrations on the island is the Divali Nagar (village of lights) in Chaguanas. During those nine nights there are performances by East Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and dramas, exhibitions, displays by various Hindu religious groups and social organizations, nightly worship of Mother Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), lighting of myriad deyas, performances related to Indian culture, and a diverse array of special foods. The festival culminates with magnificent fireworks.
Photo: “Divali” by Mai An Hoa from http://www.nowpublic.com/divali_