TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, November 10, 2012 (Trinidad Express): The Hindu community has received a total of US$468,000 from the Government for Divali celebrations this year. Some $312,000 was given to the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) and $156,000 to the National Council for Indian Culture (NCIC). Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar hosted a lavish Divali function at the Diplomatic Centre, St. Ann's on Thursday evening when Maharaj publicly extended his thanks for the money. Maharaj noted that religious organisations in this country supplement the work of the State at every level of life through the provision of churches, mosques and temples and schools from early childhood to secondary.
He later noted that all religious bodies have been getting funding from the Persad-Bissessar-led coalition. This year the Emancipation Support Committee received $624,000; ASJA got $156,000 and subsidies for Muslims to go to Hajj; some $312,000 was given to the Catholic church and the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community recently received a $2.345 million school.
In her address at the function, Persad-Bissessar said that this country can proudly boast of the fact that the freedom of worship as enshrined in the Constitution is alive and well. "The fact that we, as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, can appreciate and celebrate diverse cultures and religious holidays as a united people and as a nation speaks to our shared values as well as our profound respect for each other's beliefs," said the Prime Minister.