TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, November 2012 (by Paras Ramoutar for HPI): Spirituality and the finest of Indian culture exploded on the stage of Divali Nagar on Sunday night. One of the highlights of the performances was Quincy Kendal Charles, an Afro Trinidadian, originally from Mayaro, and who permanently resides in India, and is now considered as an expert in the Kathak style of dancing. There were also the enthralling presentation of dance portraying the Lord Hanuman Chalisa (prayer) by the B-Mobile Shiv Shakti Dance Group, followed by Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa Group,and Sandra Sookdeo Dance Group. The sweet sounds of Nada Sangam Steel Orchestra played several of the nostalgic East Indian songs and bhajans setting the place for Divali-like environment.
Several senior government ministers were in attendance which included Minister of Local Government, Dr. Surujattan Ramachan, Minister of Education, Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, Minister of Works, Emmanuel George, Minister of Energy, Senator Kevin Ramnarine, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Rudy Indarsingh, Minister of Finance, Senator Larry Howai, Mayor of Chaguanas, Councillor Orlando Nagassar. Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley and several PNM officials were also in attendance.
Divali has been celebrated as a public holiday here since 1966. The theme of this year's presentation, the 26th, was, "Shri Ram Baktha Hanuman," and Spiritual leader of the Chinmaya Mission, Swami Prakashananda was the Chief Guest of Honour.
In his stirring address, Swami Prakashananda said that a nation is as strong, robust, fit and mentally healthy as its individuals. "In Rama Bhakta Hanuman, the rishis (saints) have provided us with a most deserving role model, an exemplar in every regard. Shri Hanumanji is the most multifaceted character of the great Ramayana epic. A perfect devotee and servant of Lord Rama and by extension a servant of humanity, an astute diplomat, a guide and a guru, an ocean of knowledge, humble, simple and devoted to any cause."
President of the National Council of Indian Culture, Dr. Deokienanan Sharma said that Divali Nagar, the flagship project of the NCIC, has played a major role in exposing to the wider national community, the Caribbean and further afield the culture of the Indo Trinbagonian. Divali has been celebrated since 1845 with the arrival of the first set of East Indians, some 148,000 who came here between 1845 to 1917 to work on the sugar and cocoa plantations. It is projected that in excess of 100,000 patrons would have attended Divali Nagar 2012.